Sensory weighting of position and force feedback during pinching

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Human hands are complex biomechanical systems that allow for dexterous tasks with many degrees of freedom. Coordination of the fingers is essential for many activities of daily living and involves integrating sensory signals. During this sensory integration, the central nervous system deals with the uncertainty of sensory signals. When handling compliant objects, force and position are related. Interactions with stiff objects result in reduced position changes and increased force changes compared to compliant objects. Literature has shown sensory integration of force and position at the shoulder. Nevertheless, differences in sensory requirements between proximal and distal joints may lead to different proprioceptive representations, hence findings at proximal joints cannot be directly transferred to distal joints, such as the digits. Here, we investigate the sensory integration of force and position during pinching. A haptic manipulator rendered a virtual spring with adjustable stiffness between the index finger and the thumb. Participants had to blindly reproduce a force against the spring. In both visual reference trials and blind reproduction trials, the relation between pinch force and spring compression was constant. However, by covertly changing the spring characteristics in catch trials into an adjusted force-position relation, the participants’ weighting of force and position could be revealed. In agreement with previous studies on the shoulder, participants relied more on force sense in trials with higher stiffness. This study demonstrated stiffness-dependent sensory integration of force and position feedback during pinching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2009-2018
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Fingers
  • Motor control
  • Pinching
  • Proprioception
  • Sensory integration
  • Sensory weighting

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