Visual cues of object properties differentially affect anticipatory planning of digit forces and placement

Trevor Lee-Miller, Michelle Marneweck, Marco Santello, Andrew M. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Studies on anticipatory planning of object manipulation showed initial task failure (i.e., object roll) when visual object shape cues are incongruent with other visual cues, such as weight distribution/density (e.g., symmetrically shaped object with an asymmetrical density). This suggests that shape cues override density cues. However, these studies typically only measured forces, with digit placement constrained. Recent evidence suggests that when digit placement is unconstrained, subjects modulate digit forces and placement. Thus, unconstrained digit placement might be modulated on initial trials (since it is an explicit process), but not forces (since it is an implicit process). We tested whether shape and density cues would differentially influence anticipatory planning of digit placement and forces during initial trials of a two-digit object manipulation task. Furthermore, we tested whether shape cues would override density cues when cues are incongruent. Subjects grasped and lifted an object with the aim of preventing roll. In Experiment 1, the object was symmetrically shaped, but with asymmetrical density (incongruent cues). In Experiment 2, the object was asymmetrical in shape and density (congruent cues). In Experiment 3, the object was asymmetrically shaped, but with symmetrical density (incongruent cues). Results showed differential modulation of digit placement and forces (modulation of load force but not placement), but only when shape and density cues were congruent. When shape and density cues were incongruent, we found collinear digit placement and symmetrical force sharing. This suggests that congruent and incongruent shape and density cues differentially influence anticipatory planning of digit forces and placement. Furthermore, shape cues do not always override density cues. A continuum of visual cues, such as those alluding to shape and density, need to be integrated.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0154033
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • thumbs
  • torque
  • vision
  • density
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • brass
  • data processing
  • sensory cues

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