, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 127-147
Date: 26 Feb 2009

Order Parameter Dynamics of Body-scaled Hysteresis and Mode Transitions in Grasping Behavior

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Abstract

Several experimental studies have shown that human grasping behavior exhibits a transition from one-handed to two-handed grasping when to-be-grasped objects become larger and larger. The transition point depends on the relative size of objects measured in terms of human body-scales. Most strikingly, the transitions between the two different behavioral ‘modes’ of grasping exhibit hysteresis. That is, one-to-two hand transitions and two-to-one hand transitions occur at different relative object sizes when objects are scaled up or down in size. In our study we approach body-scaled hysteresis and mode transitions in grasping by exploiting the notion that human behavior in general results from self-organization and satisfies appropriately-defined order parameter equations. To this end, grasping transitions and grasping hysteresis are discussed from a theoretical perspective in analogy to cognitive processes defined by Haken’s neural network model for pattern recognition. In doing so, issues such as the exclusivity of grasping modes, biomechanical constraints, mode-mode interactions, single subject behavior and population behavior are explored.