Change in effectivity yields recalibration of affordance geometry to preserve functional dynamics

  • Xiaoye Michael WangEmail author
  • Geoffrey P. Bingham
Research Article


Mon-Williams and Bingham (Exp Brain Res 211(1):145–160, 2011) developed a geometrical affordance model for reaches-to-grasp, and identified a constant scaling relationship, P, between safety margins (SM) and available apertures (SM) that are determined by the sizes of the objects and the individual hands. Bingham et al. (J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 40(4):1542–1550, 2014) extended the model by introducing a dynamical component that scales the geometrical relationship to the stability of the reaching-to-grasp. The goal of the current study was to explore whether and how quickly change in the relevant effectivity (functionally determined hand size = maximum grip) would affect the geometrical and dynamical scaling relationships. The maximum grip of large-handed males was progressively restricted. Participants responded to this restriction by using progressively smaller safety margins, but progressively larger P (= SM/AA) values that preserved an invariant dynamical scaling relationship. The recalibration was relatively fast, occurring over five trials or less, presumably a number required to detect the variability or stability of performance. The results supported the affordance model for reaches-to-grasp in which the invariance is determined by the dynamical component, because it serves the goal of not colliding with the object before successful grasping can be achieved. The findings were also consistent with those of Snapp-Childs and Bingham (Exp Brain Res 198(4):527–533, 2009) who found changes in age-specific geometric scaling for stepping affordances as a function of changes in effectivities over the life span where those changes preserved a dynamic scaling constant similar to that in the current study.


Reach-to-grasp Affordance Perception/action Calibration Body size 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

Procedures in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and the Declaration of Helsinki.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


Available aperture, AA

The difference between MG and MOE (AA = MG − MOE)

Final grasp aperture, FGA

Occurs when the fingers, i.e., thumb and index finger, actually contact the object in the grasp. Temporally, FGA occurs after TGA. FGA is operationally defined as the distance between the fingers when the velocity of the index finger falls below 3 cm/s

Lateral position of MGA, MGA POS

The difference between the center of the object and the center of MGA. This is a measure of the accuracy of the targeting portion of reach-to-grasp. MGA POS is operationally defined as the distance from the center of MGA to the vertical plane formed between the midpoints of grasp aperture at the initiation of the reach and that at FGA

Maximum grasp aperture, MGA

Occurs during the approach of the hand to the target object when the grasp aperture is the maximum

Maximum grip, MG

Reflects the effective size of the actor’s hand. MG is operationally determined by having the actors to grasp and hold the longest rod they can using their thumb and index finger

Maximum object extent, MOE

The maximum length diagonal through the object. This is operationally defined as the Pythagorean of the object width and the length of the grasp surface.

Safety margin, SM

The difference between the MGA and MOE (SM = MGA − MOE)

Safety margin’s variability, SM SD

Reflects the variability of the grasping movement. SM SD is operationally defined as the standard deviation of SM for a given object

Terminal grasp aperture, TGA

Occurs when the hand velocity drops to zero with the hand at the target object but prior to the fingers closing on the object. Temporally, TGA occurs before FGA. TGA is operationally defined as the distance between the fingers when the velocity of the wrist drops below 5 cm/s

Total variability, TV

Sum of SM SD and MGA POS SD


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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