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Predictive and reactive control of grasping forces: on the role of the basal ganglia and sensory feedback

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Abstract

We comparatively investigated predictive and reactive grip force behaviour in 12 subjects with basal ganglia dysfunction (six subjects with Parkinson’s disease, six subjects with writer’s cramp), two subjects chronically lacking all tactile and proprioceptive sensory feedback and 16 sex- and age-matched control subjects. Subjects held an instrumented receptacle between the index finger and thumb. A weight was dropped into the receptacle either unexpectedly from the experimenter’s hand with the subject being blindfolded or expectedly from the subject’s opposite hand. This paradigm allowed us to study predictive and reactive modes of grip force control. All patients generated an overshoot in grip force, irrespective of whether the weight was dropped expectedly or unexpectedly. When the weight was dropped from the experimenter’s hand, a reactive grip force response lagged behind the load perturbation at impact in patients with basal ganglia dysfunction and healthy controls. When the weight was dropped expectedly from the subject’s opposite hand, patients with basal ganglia dysfunction and healthy subjects started to increase grip force prior to the release of the weight, indicating a predictive mode of control. We interpret these data to support the notion that the motor dysfunction in basal ganglia disorders is associated with deficits of sensorimotor integration. Both deafferented subjects did not show a reactive mode of force control when the weight was dropped unexpectedly, underlining the importance of sensory feedback to initiate reactive force responses. Also in the predictive mode, grip force processing was severely impaired in deafferented subjects. Thus, at least intermittent sensory information is necessary to establish and update predictive modes of grasping force control.

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Correspondence to Dennis A. Nowak.

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Nowak, D.A., Hermsdörfer, J. Predictive and reactive control of grasping forces: on the role of the basal ganglia and sensory feedback. Exp Brain Res 173, 650–660 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-006-0409-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-006-0409-7

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