The effects of surface friction at the digit-object interface on digit forces were studied when subjects (n=8) statically held an object in a five-digit grasp. The friction conditions were SS (all surfaces are sandpaper), RR (all are rayon), SR (S for the thumb and R for the four fingers), and RS (the reverse of SR). The interaction effects of surface friction and external torque were also examined using five torques (-0.5, -0.25, 0, +0.25, +0.5 Nm). Forces and moments exerted by the digits on a handle were recorded. At zero torque conditions, in the SS and RR (symmetric) tasks the normal forces of the thumb and virtual finger (VF, an imagined finger with the mechanical effect equal to that of the four fingers) were larger for the RR than the SS conditions. In the SR and RS (asymmetric) tasks, the normal forces were between the RR and SS conditions. Tangential forces were smaller at the more slippery side than at the less slippery side. According to the mathematical optimization analysis decreasing the tangential forces at the more slippery sides decreases the cost function values. The difference between the thumb and VF tangential forces, ΔFt, generated a moment of the tangential forces (friction-induced moment). At non-zero torque conditions the friction-induced moment and the moment counterbalancing the external torque (equilibrium- necessitated moment) could be in same or in opposite directions. When the two moments were in the same direction, the contribution of the moment of tangential forces to the total moment was large, and the normal forces were relatively low. In contrast, when the two moments were in opposite directions, the contribution of the moment of tangential forces to the total moment markedly decreased, which was compensated by an increase in the moment of normal forces. The apparently complicated results were explained as the result of summation of the friction-related (elemental) and torque-related (synergy) components of the central commands to the individual digits.
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