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Neural Comput. 2011 Oct;23(10):2511-36. doi: 10.1162/NECO_a_00180. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

An optimal feedback control framework for grasping objects with position uncertainty.

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  • 1Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


As we move, the relative location between our hands and objects changes in uncertain ways due to noisy motor commands and imprecise and ambiguous sensory information. The impressive capabilities humans display for interacting and manipulating objects with position uncertainty suggest that our brain maintains representations of location uncertainty and builds compensation for uncertainty into its motor control strategies. Our previous work demonstrated that specific control strategies are used to compensate for location uncertainty. However, it is an open question whether compensation for position uncertainty in grasping is consistent with the stochastic optimal feedback control, mainly due to the difficulty of modeling natural tasks within this framework. In this study, we develop a stochastic optimal feedback control model to evaluate the optimality of human grasping strategies. We investigate the properties of the model through a series of simulation experiments and show that it explains key aspects of previously observed compensation strategies. It also provides a basis for individual differences in terms of differential control costs-the controller compensates only to the extent that performance benefits in terms of making stable grasps outweigh the additional control costs of compensation. These results suggest that stochastic optimal feedback control can be used to understand uncertainty compensation in complex natural tasks like grasping.

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