We explored the phenomena of force drifts and unintentional finger force production (enslaving), and their dependence on visual feedback. Predictions have been drawn based on the theory of control with spatial referent coordinates for condition with feedback on instructed (master) finger force, enslaved finger force, and total force for one-hand and two-hand tasks. Subjects produced force under the different feedback conditions without their knowledge. No feedback condition was also used for the one-hand tasks. Overall, feedback of master finger force led to an increase in the enslaved force, feedback on the slave finger force led to a drop in the master force, feedback on the total force led to balanced drifts in the master force down and enslaved force up, and under the no-feedback condition, master and total force drifted down with large variability in the enslaved force drifts. The patterns were the same in both hands in the two-hand tasks when feedback was provided on the forces of one hand only (without subject’s knowledge). The index of enslaving always drifted toward higher values. We interpret the findings as reflecting three main factors: drifts in the referent coordinates toward actual finger coordinates, spread of cortical excitation over representations of the fingers, and robust sharing of referent coordinates between the two hands in bimanual tasks. The large consistent drifts in enslaving toward higher values have to be considered in studies of multi-finger synergies.
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