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Psychol Res. 2011 Jul;75(4):341-9. doi: 10.1007/s00426-010-0311-6. Epub 2010 Oct 13.

Prospective and retrospective effects in human motor control: planning grasps for object rotation and translation.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, OR, 97006, USA.


People pick up objects in ways that reflect prospective as well as retrospective control. Prospective control is indicated by planning for end-state comfort such that people grasp a cylinder to be rotated or translated with a hand orientation or at a height that affords a comfortable final posture. Retrospective control is indicated when people reuse a remembered grasp rather than using a new grasp that would ensure end-state comfort. Here, we asked whether these manifestations of prospective and retrospective control co-occur. We did so by having healthy young-adult participants grasp a cylinder to rotate and translate it between a horizontal position and a vertical position at each of five heights. We found that participants planned for comfortable final hand orientations for first moves but relied on recall for subsequent hand orientations. The results suggest that motor planning is sensitive to computational as well as physical demands and that object rotation and translation are not dissociable features of motor control, at least as reflected in their contributions to grasp selection. The latter result is consistent with the hypothesis that movements constitute holistic body changes between successive goal postures.

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