Effect of visual and haptic feedback on grasping movements

Chiara Bozzacchi, Robert Volcic, Fulvio Domini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perceptual estimates of three-dimensional (3D) properties, such as the distance and depth of an object, are often inaccurate. Given the accuracy and ease with which we pick up objects, it may be expected that perceptual distortions do not affect how the brain processes 3D information for reach-to-grasp movements. Nonetheless, empirical results show that grasping accuracy is reduced when visual feedback of the hand is removed. Here we studied whether specific types of training could correct grasping behavior to perform adequately even when any form of feedback is absent. Using a block design paradigm, we recorded the movement kinematics of subjects grasping virtual objects located at different distances in the absence of visual feedback of the hand and haptic feedback of the object, before and after different training blocks with different feedback combinations (vision of the thumb and vision of thumb and index finger, with and without tactile feedback of the object). In the Pretraining block, we found systematic biases of the terminal hand position, the final grip aperture, and the maximum grip aperture like those reported in perceptual tasks. Importantly, the distance at which the object was presented modulated all these biases. In the Posttraining blocks only the hand position was partially adjusted, but final and maximum grip apertures remained unchanged. These findings show that when visual and haptic feedback are absent systematic distortions of 3D estimates affect reach-to-grasp movements in the same way as they affect perceptual estimates. Most importantly, accuracy cannot be learned, even after extensive training with feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3189-3196
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 2014


  • Calibration
  • Feedback
  • Grasping
  • Perceptual biases
  • Visuomotor learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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