Indexed on: 09 Jan '18Published on: 09 Jan '18Published in: PloS one
The present study explored the sensitivity towards bimanual end-state comfort in a task that required anticipating different final grips. Participants simultaneously reached and grasped two objects with either a whole-hand grip (WHG) or a precision grip (PG), and placed them at two target locations by transporting them either over or under an obstacle. The transport path was varied such that it could be either congruent (i.e., both objects over or under) or incongruent (i.e., one object over and the other object under). In the congruent conditions, participants satisfied bimanual end-state comfort (and identical initial grips) on the majority of trials. That is, participants adopted a PG for either hand when the objects were transported over the obstacle and a WHG for either hand when the objects were transported under the obstacle. In contrast, in the incongruent conditions, bimanual end-state comfort was significantly reduced, indicating the presence of intermanual inference. The results indicate that goal-related planning constraints (i.e., bimanual end-state comfort) do not strictly take precedence over means-related constraints (i.e., identical initial grips) if this requires anticipating different final grips. Thus, bimanual end-state comfort per se does not provide a predominant constraint in action selection, by which sensorimotor interference can be reduced. In line with the proposal that bimanual grip planning relies on a flexible constraint hierarchy, a simple formal model that considers bimanual grip posture planning as a tradeoff between goal-related and means-related planning processes can explain our results reasonably well.