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Joel R. Martin, Mark L. Latash and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

This study investigated the effects of modifying contact finger forces in one direction—normal or tangential—on the entire set of the contact forces, while statically holding an object. Subjects grasped a handle instrumented with finger force-moment sensors, maintained it at rest in the air, and then slowly: (1) increased the grasping force, (2) tried to spread fingers apart, and (3) tried to squeeze fingers together. Analysis was mostly performed at the virtual finger (VF) level (the VF is an imaginable finger that generates the same force and moment as the four fingers combined). For all three tasks there were statistically significant changes in the VF normal and tangential forces. For finger spreading/squeezing the tangential force neutral point was located between the index and middle fingers. We conclude that the internal forces are regulated as a whole, including adjustments in both normal and tangential force, instead of only a subset of forces (normal or tangential). The effects of such factors as EFFORT and TORQUE were additive; their interaction was not statistically significant, thus supporting the principle of superposition in human prehension.

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Priscila Abbári Rossi Manciopi, Natalia Madalena Rinaldi and Renato Moraes

Low back pain (LBP) can affect performance in the combined task (CT) of gait and prehension, since it increases muscle activity amplitude during voluntary movements, impairs the anticipatory postural adjustments and reduces gait speed. We analyzed and compared the effect of adding the prehension movement toward a dowel located at three different heights (80, 100 and 120% of the lower limb length) on gait of individuals with and without LBP. The CT caused anticipatory adjustments, showing that gait changes started during the approach phase and continued on the step corresponding to grasping, especially for the lowest dowel height. Furthermore, individuals with LBP reduced walking speed, increased the width of the base of support, increased electromyography activity of low back trunk muscles, and increased the margin of dynamic stability compared with control group. These results suggest that individuals with LBP used a strategy to reduce threat to body stability due to addition of the manual task.

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Ronald C. Marteniuk and Christopher P. Bertram

The present paper reviews a series of prehension experiments recently conducted at Simon Fraser University's Human Motor Systems Laboratory, and attempts to place them into the larger context of multi-segmental control theory. Two related lines of experiments are reported: (a) experiments involving prehension during walking, and (b) experiments involving trunk-assisted reaching. Three-dimensional analyses of movements were performed via both world-and body-centered coordinates. Our results are supportive of the idea that both types of tasks are carried out using task-specific synergies. Furthermore, we assert that the actions of these synergies are comprised of variable contributions of different movement systems and result in smooth, world-centered end-point trajectories. We show evidence that this “motor equivalence” is the result of increasing the complexity of a given task. Finally, the implications of the present findings on prevailing motor control theory are discussed in terms of the theoretical mechanisms underlying the coordination of the transport and grasp components of prehension.

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Mark L. Latash, Jae Kun Shim, Fan Gao and Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

We review a series of studies that show stabilization of the moment of a couple produced by a set of digits in many maximal and submaximal accurate force production tasks that have no requirements for the moment. In particular, an unusual and novel multi-digit force production task shows stabilization of the total moment while the total force requires extensive practice to be stabilized. Similar results were obtained in persons with Down syndrome during easier tasks. During prehension, changes in digit forces and coordinates of their points of application suggest the presence of two multi-digit synergies whose purpose is to assure a certain grip force and a certain total moment, respectively. Elderly persons show impaired production of both maximal and submaximal moments that goes beyond their documented loss of muscle force. We conclude that moment production (keeping rotational equilibrium) is a central constraint in a variety of multi-digit tasks that has received little attention. Analysis of digit interaction for moment production during handwriting could signify a major step towards understanding the control of this action.

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Simon J. Bennett, Digby Elliott, Daniel J. Weeks and Damian Keil

The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of intermittent binocular and monocular vision on the preparation and execution of the transport and grasp phases of prehension, and hence the temporal limit of binocular and monocular integration. Participants in two groups (speed or accuracy) performed prehensile movements of two amplitudes (20 and 40 cm) to either a large or small object (6 × 6 × 2 and 6 × 4 × 2 cm) under conditions of binocular and monocular viewing. The interval between visual samples was manipulated with liquid crystal goggles (continuous vision, 20on/60off, and 20on/120off ms). A kinematic analysis indicated that participants modified variables associated with the preparation and execution of prehension in the intermittent vision conditions when instructed to emphasize accuracy. Participants instructed to emphasize speed, modified variables associated with the preparation phase only. The impact of intermittent vision was similar under binocular and monocular viewing. Thus, for prehension, it appears that consecutive binocular or monocular samples need to occur less than 60 ms apart in order to be fully integrated for limb control.

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Grace C. Bellinger, Kristen A. Pickett and Andrea H. Mason

locomotion. This study investigated the control of a prehension (i.e., reaching out to grasp an object) task during straight-line walking, thus, examining two commonly paired motor skills that have historically been studied separately. Prehension combines two very distinct coordinated movements: reaching and

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Paola Cesari and Karl M. Newell

The experiment reported examined: (a) the role of the geometrical body scaled informational invariant for the transition of human grip configurations; (b) whether the same invariant can be scaled considering also the force applied during the grasp phase; and (c) how the temporal duration of the grasp and displacement phases of prehension are scaled to the object properties of size and mass. Adult subjects performed a series of trials in reaching, grasping, and displacing spheres that varied in size and mass. The grip transitions were described by the body scaled relation:

K=logLs+logMsa+bMh+cLh
where Ls and Ms are, respectively, the diameter and the mass of the spheres grasped and Lh and Mh are the length and the mass of the hand. The impulse during the grasp phase was linearly related with the mass of the spheres within each density. The temporal durations of the grasp and displacement components were scaled coherently to the object properties. These findings provide support to the hypothesis that the grasp and displacement components of prehension are organized coherently within a single action.

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Ronald G. Marteniuk and Christopher P. Bertram

Smeets and Brenner have suggested that it may be time to abandon Jeannerod’s “classical approach” to studying human prehension, and have presented a mathematical model as an alternative. We argue that this model provides insufficient grounds for widespread acceptance, and question whether or not such an approach furthers the science of motor control.

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Karl M. Newell and Paola Cesari

Smeets and Brenner provide a very clear and useful statement of the work that has been stimulated by Jeannerod's 1984 paper but seem more concerned about the viability of model fitting than model assumptions. The theoretical and practical limitations of viewing “grasping as nothing more than pointing” are noted. We reemphasize the importance in prehension of the union of the hand with the object in the act of realizing a task goal.

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Claudia Armbrüster and Will Spijkers

In three experiments the influence of different consecutive movements on an initial reaching and prehension movement was examined. These so-called after-grasp movements, defined as movements following a prehension movement towards an object, were lifting and raising the object, throwing the object in a bin, and positioning it accurately on a target location. Three different groups of participants (N 1 = 8, N 2 = 10, N 3 = 10) accomplished the lifting and one of the three other after-grasp movements each with three different object sizes and with the left and the right hand. In total, each participant executed 240 trials. Fourteen movement parameter values were examined to analyze the effects of the after-grasp movements on the initial reach and grasp movement. The results showed that movement parameter values of the initial reach and grasp movement were affected differently depending on the type of consecutive movement. In particular, the deceleration phase prior to object contact differed between movement types.