The neural mechanisms of manual dexterity

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2021 Dec;22(12):741-757. doi: 10.1038/s41583-021-00528-7. Epub 2021 Oct 28.


The hand endows us with unparalleled precision and versatility in our interactions with objects, from mundane activities such as grasping to extraordinary ones such as virtuoso pianism. The complex anatomy of the human hand combined with expansive and specialized neuronal control circuits allows a wide range of precise manual behaviours. To support these behaviours, an exquisite sensory apparatus, spanning the modalities of touch and proprioception, conveys detailed and timely information about our interactions with objects and about the objects themselves. The study of manual dexterity provides a unique lens into the sensorimotor mechanisms that endow the nervous system with the ability to flexibly generate complex behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hand / anatomy & histology*
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology
  • Touch Perception / physiology