Anticipatory Vibrotactile Cueing Facilitates Grip Force Adjustment during Perturbative Loading

  • Okamoto Shogo
  • Wiertlewski Michael
  • Hayward Vincent


Grip force applied to an object held between the thumb and index finger is automatically and unconsciously adjusted upon perception of an external disturbance to the object. Typically, this adjustment occurs within approximately 100 ms. Here, we investigated the effect of anticipatory vibrotactile cues prior to a perturbative force, which the central nervous system may use for rapid grip re-stabilization. We asked participants to grip and hold an instrumented, actuated handle between the thumb and index finger. Under computer control, the handle could suddenly be pulled away from a static grip and could independently provide vibration to the gripping fingers. The mean latency of corrective motor action was 139 ms. When vibrotactile stimulation was applied 50 ms before application of tractive force, the latency was reduced to 117 ms, whereas the mean latency of the conscious response to vibrotactile stimuli alone was 229 ms. This suggests that vibrotactile stimulation can influence reflex-like actions. We also examined the effects of anticipatory cues using a set of perturbative loads with different rising rates. As expected, facilitation of grip force adjustment was observed for moderate loads. In contrast, anticipatory cues had an insignificant effect on rapid loads that evoked an adjustment within 60-80 ms, which approaches the minimum latency of human grip adjustment. Understanding the facilitative effects of anticipatory cues on human reactive grip can aid the development of human-machine interfaces to enhance human behavior.