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Friedman, J., Latash, M. L., & Zatsiorsky, V. M. (2009). Prehension synergies: a study of digit force adjustments to the continuously varied load force exerted on a partially constrained hand-held object. Exp Brain Res, 197(1), 1–13.
Abstract: We examined how the digit forces adjust when a load force acting on a hand-held object continuously varies. The subjects were required to hold the handle still while a linearly increasing and then decreasing force was applied to the handle. The handle was constrained, such that it could only move up and down, and rotate about a horizontal axis. In addition, the moment arm of the thumb tangential force was 1.5 times the moment arm of the virtual finger (VF, an imagined finger with the mechanical action equal to that of the four fingers) force. Unlike the situation when there are equal moment arms, the experimental setup forced the subjects to choose between (a) sharing equally the increase in load force between the thumb and VF but generating a moment of tangential force, which had to be compensated by negatively co-varying the moment due to normal forces, or (b) sharing unequally the load force increase between the thumb and VF but preventing generation of a moment of tangential forces. We found that different subjects tended to use one of these two strategies. These findings suggest that the selection by the CNS of prehension synergies at the VF-thumb level with respect to the moment of force is non-obligatory and reflects individual subject preferences. This unequal sharing of the load by the tangential forces, in contrast to the previously observed equal sharing, suggests that the invariant feature of prehension may be a correlated increase in tangential forces rather than an equal increase.
Kapur, S., Friedman, J., Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Latash, M. L. (2010). Finger interaction in a three-dimensional pressing task. Experimental Brain Research, 203(1), 101–118.
Abstract: Accurate control of forces produced by the fingers is essential for performing object manipulation. This study examines the indices of finger interaction when accurate time profiles of force are produced in different directions, while using one of the fingers or all four fingers of the hand. We hypothesized that patterns of unintended force production among shear force components may involve features not observed in the earlier studies of vertical force production. In particular, we expected to see unintended forces generated by non-task fingers not in the
direction on the instructed force but in the opposite direction as well as substantial force production in directions orthogonal to the instructed direction. We also tested a hypothesis that multi-finger synergies, quantified using the framework of the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis, will help reduce across-trials variance of both total force magnitude and direction. Young, healthy subjects were required to produce accurate ramps of force in five different directions by
pressing on force sensors with the fingers of the right (dominant) hand. The index finger induced the smallest unintended forces in non-task fingers. The little finger showed the smallest unintended forces when it was a non-task finger. Task fingers showed substantial force production in directions orthogonal to the intended force direction. During four-finger tasks, individual force vectors typically pointed off the task direction, with these deviations nearly
perfectly matched to produce a resultant force in the task direction. Multi-finger synergy indices reflected strong co-variation in the space of finger modes (commands to fingers) that reduced variability of the total force magnitude and direction across trials. The synergy indices increased in magnitude over the first 30% of the trial time and then stayed at a nearly constant level. The synergy index for stabilization of total force magnitude was higher for shear force components as compared to the downward pressing force component. The results suggest complex interactions between enslaving and synergic force adjustments, possibly reflecting the experience with everyday prehensile tasks. For the first time, the data document multi-finger synergies stabilizing both shear force magnitude and force vector direction. These synergies may play a major role in
stabilizing the hand action during object manipulation.
Friedman, J., SKM, V., Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Latash, M. L. (2009). The sources of two components of variance: an example of multifinger cyclic force production tasks at different frequencies. Exp Brain Res, 196(2), 263–277.
Abstract: In a multifinger cyclic force production task, the finger force variance measured across trials can be decomposed into two components, one that affects the combined force output (“bad variance”) and one that does not (“good variance”). Previous studies have found similar time patterns of “bad variance” and force rate leading to an approximately linear relationship between them. Based on this finding and a recently developed model of multifinger force production, we expected the “bad variance” during cyclic force production to increase monotonically with the rate of force change, both within a cycle and across trials at different frequencies. Alternatively, “bad variance” could show a dependence on task frequency, not on actual force derivative values. Healthy subjects were required to produce cyclic force patterns to prescribed targets by pressing on unidimensional force sensors, at a frequency set by a metronome. The task was performed with only the index finger, and with all four fingers. In the task with all four fingers, the “good variance” increased approximately linearly with an increase in the force magnitude. The “bad variance” showed within-a-cycle modulation similar to that of the force rate. However, an increase in the frequency did not lead to an increase in the “bad variance” that could be expected based on the natural relationships between action frequency and the rate of force change modulation. The results have been interpreted in the framework of an earlier model of multifinger force production where “bad variance” is a result of variance of the timing parameter. The unexpected lack of modulation of the “bad variance” with frequency suggests a drop in variance of the timing parameter with increased frequency. This mechanism may serve to maintain a constant acceptable level of variance under different conditions.