Reach and Grasp reconfigurations reveal that proprioception assists reaching and hapsis assists grasping in peripheral vision

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The dual visuomotor channel theory proposes that prehension consists of a Reach that transports the hand in relation to an object’s extrinsic properties (e.g., location) and a Grasp that shapes the hand to an object’s intrinsic properties (e.g., size and shape). In central vision, the Reach and the Grasp are integrated but when an object cannot be seen, the movements can decompose with the Reach first used to locate the object and the Grasp postponed until it is assisted by touch. Reaching for an object in a peripheral visual field is an everyday act, and although it is reported that there are changes in Grasp aperture with target eccentricity, it is not known whether the configuration of the Reach and the Grasp also changes. The present study examined this question by asking participants to reach for food items at 0° or 22.5° and 45° from central gaze. Participants made 15 reaches for a larger round donut ball and a smaller blueberry, and hand movements were analyzed using frame-by-frame video inspection and linear kinematics. Perception of targets was degraded as participants could not identify objects in peripheral vision but did recognize their differential size. The Reach to peripheral targets featured a more dorsal trajectory, a more open hand, and less accurate digit placement. The Grasp featured hand adjustments or target manipulations after contact, which were associated with a prolonged Grasp duration. Thus, Grasps to peripheral vision did not consist only of a simple modification of visually guided reaching but included the addition of somatosensory assistance. The kinematic and behavioral changes argue that proprioception assists the Reach and touch assists the Grasp in peripheral vision, supporting the idea that Reach and Grasp movements are used flexibly in relation to sensory guidance depending upon the salience of target properties.

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The authors would like to thank Emilyne S. Jankunis for help with figure preparation, Layne A. Lenhart for help with data collection, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on a previous draft of this paper. This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (JMK, IQW), Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions (JMK), and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (IQW).

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Correspondence to Jenni M. Karl.

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Grasping strategies with vision, without vision, and with peripheral vision (45°). Filmed at 300 frames/second and played back at 30 frames/second (MOV 23817 kb)

Grasping strategies with vision, without vision, and with peripheral vision (45°). Filmed at 300 frames/second and played back at 30 frames/second (MOV 23817 kb)

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Hall, L.A., Karl, J.M., Thomas, B.L. et al. Reach and Grasp reconfigurations reveal that proprioception assists reaching and hapsis assists grasping in peripheral vision. Exp Brain Res 232, 2807–2819 (2014).

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  • Dual visuomotor channels
  • Peripheral vision
  • Prehension
  • Reach
  • Grasp
  • Haptic