Physically coupling two objects in a bimanual task alters kinematics but not end-state comfort.

Research paper by Charmayne M L CM Hughes, Jeffrey M JM Haddad, Elizabeth A EA Franz, Howard N HN Zelaznik, Joong Hyun JH Ryu

Indexed on: 13 Apr '11Published on: 13 Apr '11Published in: Experimental Brain Research


People often grasp objects with an awkward grip to ensure a comfortable hand posture at the end of the movement. This end-state comfort effect is a predominant constraint during unimanual movements. However, during bimanual movements the tendency for both hands to satisfy end-state comfort is affected by factors such as end-orientation congruency and task context. Although bimanual end-state comfort has been examined when the hands manipulate two independent objects, no research has examined end-state comfort when the hands are required to manipulate two physically-coupled objects. In the present experiment, kinematics and grasp behavior during a unimanual and bimanual reaching and placing tasks were examined, when the hands manipulate two physically-connected objects. Forty-five participants were assigned to one of three groups; unimanual, bimanual no-spring (the objects were not physically connected), and bimanual spring (the objects were connected by a spring), and instructed to grasp and place objects in various end-orientations, depending on condition. Physically connecting the objects did not affect end-state comfort prevalence. However, it resulted in decreased interlimb coupling. This finding supports the notion of a flexible constraint hierarchy, in which action goals guide the selection of lower level action features (i.e., hand grip used for grasping), and the particular movements used to accomplish that goal (i.e., interlimb coupling) are controlled throughout the movement.