Within-trial modulation of multi-digit forces to friction

Wei Zhang, Andrew M. Gordon, Tara L. McIsaac, Marco Santello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Tactile signals from the fingertips play a crucial role in the planning and control of object manipulations. Specifically, subjects adapt their digit forces to the object physical properties, including the friction at the object surface, to perform object manipulation while preventing slipping or dropping. This study addressed the adaptation of multi-digit forces to friction that occurs within a trial (from contact to onset of object manipulation) and across trials. Ten healthy participants were instructed to grasp, lift, hold, and release a grip device with five digits under four texture conditions: (1) all digits on rayon (R-R), (2) all digits on sandpaper (S-S), (3) thumb on sandpaper and fingers on rayon (S-R), and (4) thumb on rayon and fingers on sandpaper (R-S). Changing the texture conditions elicited significant changes from object contact to lift onset on digit normal force and center of pressure, as well as on the safety margins and force sharing patterns, e.g., normal forces exerted by each finger expressed as percentage of thumb normal forces. Furthermore, these friction effects were found on the very first trial and were observed throughout the remainder of the trials, thus indicating that force adaptation occurred within the first manipulation. Finally, a highly linear relation between the safety margin at object lift onset and object hold confirmed that digit force adaptation to friction occurred before object lift onset. These findings are discussed in relation to the role of tactile input in force modulation during the early phase of multi-digit grasping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-26
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Adaptation
  • Fingers
  • Force coordination
  • Friction
  • Grasping
  • Hand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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