Radial force distribution changes associated with tangential force production in cylindrical grasping, and the importance of anatomical registration

Todd C. Pataky, Gregory P. Slota, Mark L. Latash, Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Radial force (F r) distributions describe grip force coordination about a cylindrical object. Recent studies have employed only explicit F r tasks, and have not normalized for anatomical variance when considering F r distributions. The goals of the present study were (i) to explore F r during tangential force production tasks, and (ii) to examine the extent to which anatomical registration (i.e. spatial normalization of anatomically analogous structures) could improve signal detectability in F r data. Twelve subjects grasped a vertically oriented cylindrical handle (diameter=6cm) and matched target upward tangential forces of 10, 20, and 30N. F r data were measured using a flexible pressure mat with an angular resolution of 4.8°, and were registered using piecewise-linear interpolation between five manually identified points-of-interest. Results indicate that F r was primarily limited to three contact regions: the distal thumb, the distal fingers, and the fingers' metatacarpal heads, and that, while increases in tangential force caused significant increases in F r for these regions, they did not significantly affect the F r distribution across the hand. Registration was found to substantially reduce between-subject variability, as indicated by both accentuated F r trends, and amplification of the test statistic. These results imply that, while subjects focus F r primarily on three anatomical regions during cylindrical grasp, inter-subject anatomical differences introduce a variability that, if not corrected for via registration, may compromise one's ability to draw anatomically relevant conclusions from grasping force data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-224
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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