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The heavier the arm, the higher the action: the effects of forearm-weight changes on reach-to-grasp movements


Usually, our bodily movements are performed against gravity. Most studies using a force field have focused on adaptation processes to force applied in the horizontal plane, which is novel to us, but not to force in the gravitational direction. The present study investigated the immediate effects (aftereffects) of a force toward the gravitational direction on the kinematics of reach-to-grasp movements as well as short-term adaptation to the force, simply by adding a weight to participants’ forearm. Healthy young adults performed blocks of 10 reach-to-grasp movements under three weight conditions; as the weights were changed between blocks, the participants experienced weight changes ranging from − 200 to + 200 g. We obtained three main results; first, the height of movement trajectory (trajectory height) was remarkably higher immediately after the forearm weight changed to lighter than after the weight changed to heavier, suggesting that participants planed the trajectory height with the same muscle efforts as in the previous trial. Second, the trajectory height at the end of the block became higher only in 200 g condition, indicating that the participants could not achieve same trajectory height as that without any weight load, at least in ten trials of adaptation period to the 200 g weight load. Third, the coordination between reach and grasp components was preserved immediately after forearm-weight changes. These findings may contribute to further understand how we perform adaptive reach-to-grasp movements with frequent weight changes that are inevitable in everyday life.

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This work was supported by the Japan Society for Promotion of Science, KAKENHI (grant numbers 17H06345 and 20H01785).

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Correspondence to Yoshihiro Itaguchi.

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This study design was approved by the ethics committee of Shizuoka University (No. 19-45).

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All study participants provided informed consent.

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Communicated by Melvyn A. Goodale.

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Ando, L., Itaguchi, Y. The heavier the arm, the higher the action: the effects of forearm-weight changes on reach-to-grasp movements. Exp Brain Res 240, 1515–1528 (2022).

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  • Reaching
  • Grasping
  • Load
  • Adaptation
  • Perturbation