Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 111, Issue 3, pp 473–476 | Cite as

Size illusion influences how we lift but not how we grasp an object

  • Eli Brenner
  • Jeroen B. J. Smeets
Research Note


Reaching out for an object is often described as consisting of two components that are based on different visual information. Information on the object's position and orientation guides the hand to the object, while information on the object's shape and size determines how the fingers move relative to the thumb to grasp it. We propose an alternative description, which consists of determining suitable positions on the object — on the basis of its shape, surface texture, and so on — and then moving one's thumb and fingers to these positions. This could lead to the same performance without requiring distinct visual information on the object's orientation or size. If so, an illusory change in size need not influence the distance between thumb and fingers when reaching out for an object. However, as the object's size is used to estimate its weight, the illusory change in size should influence the force that is exerted to lift the object. To find out whether this is so, eight subjects were asked to pick up brass disks from a fixed position straight in front of them. The illusory change in size was brought about by presenting five converging lines in two different configurations under the disks. As predicted, the illusion influenced the force used to lift the disks, but not the distance between the subjects' thumbs and fingers when reaching for the disks.

Key words

Motor control Visual pathways Illusions Prehension Human 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eli Brenner
    • 1
  • Jeroen B. J. Smeets
    • 1
  1. 1.Vakgroep Fysiologie, Erasmus UniversiteitDR RotterdamThe Netherlands

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