Prehension synergies during nonvertical grasping, I: Experimental observations

Todd C. Pataky, Mark L. Latash, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The mechanical complexities of rotating an object through the gravity field present a formidable challenge to the human central nervous system (CNS). The current study documents the finger force patterns selected by the CNS when performing one-, two-, and four-finger grasping while holding an object statically at various orientations with respect to vertical. Numerous mechanically ''unnecessary'' behaviors were observed. These included: nonzero tangential forces for horizontal handle orientations, large internal forces (i.e., those in excess of equilibrium requirements) for all orientations, and safety margins between 50 and 90%. Additionally, none of the investigated measures were constant across orientations or could be represented as a simple trigonometric function of orientation. Nonetheless, all measures varied in systematic (and sometimes symmetric) ways with orientation. The results suggest that the CNS selects force patterns that are based on mechanical principles but also that are not simply related to object orientation. This study is complemented by a second paper that provides an in-depth analysis of the mechanics of nonvertical grasping and accounts for many of the observed results with numerical optimization (see Part II - current issue). Together, the papers demonstrate that the CNS is likely to utilize optimization processes when controlling prehensile actions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-158
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • General Computer Science


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