Manipulation after object rotation reveals independent sensorimotor memory representations of digit positions and forces

Wei Zhang, Andrew M. Gordon, Qiushi Fu, Marco Santello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Planning of object manipulations is dependent on the ability to generate, store, and retrieve sensorimotor memories of previous actions associated with grasped objects. However, the sensorimotor memory representations linking object properties to the planning of grasp are not well understood. Here we use an object rotation task to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying the nature of these sensorimotor memories. We asked subjects to grasp a grip device with an asymmetrical center of mass (CM) anywhere on its vertical surfaces and lift it while minimizing object roll. After subjects learned to minimize object roll by generating a compensatory moment, they were asked to rotate the object 180° about a vertical axis and lift it again. The rotation resulted in changing the direction of external moment opposite to that experienced during the prerotation block. Anticipatory grasp control was quantified by measuring the compensatory moment generated at object lift onset by thumb and index finger forces through their respective application points. On the first postrotation trial, subjects failed to generate a compensatory moment to counter the external moment caused by the new CM location, thus resulting in a large object roll. Nevertheless, after several object rotations subjects reduced object roll on the initial postrotation trials by anticipating the new CM location through the modulation of digit placement but not tangential forces. The differential improvement in modulating these two variables supports the notion of independent memory representations of kinematics and kinetics and is discussed in relation to neural mechanisms underlying visuomotor transformations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2953-2964
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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