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J Mot Behav. 1987 Jun;19(2):187-213.

Knowledge about hand shaping and knowledge about objects.

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Department of Pscyhology, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.


Our two experiments investigated associations between cognitive representations of objects and hand-shape categories. Hand configurations were partitioned according to prehensility and the size of the contacting surface, resulting in the classes: pinch, poke, palm, and clench. Experiment 1 elicited object names in response to configuration-name cues, provided ratings of the relevance of each configuration to a set of objects, and probed for the functions determining such relevance. Cueing with a configuration class elicited an associated object category with substantial intersubject agreement, and vice versa. Both the object categories and the functions associated with the four hand-configuration classes differed substantially, although the same object could be associated to some extent with multiple configurations, given variations in function. Experiment 2 elicited the names of hand-configuration classes in response to unfamiliar forms, which varied systematically in depth and the size of the projecting picture-plane surface. The modal response, response time, and degree of intersubject agreement were directly related to these variables. These structural variables, however, did not adequately predict shaping responses to real objects, as ascertained from Experiment 1. The results have implications for cognitive representation of motor categories and hand shaping in response to objects.

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