Time-based prediction in motor control: evidence from grip force response to external load perturbations

Hoi Kwok, Alan Wing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


An object held in precision grip creates predictable load forces on the hand during voluntary hand movement and these are associated with anticipatory modulation of grip force. Conflicting results have been obtained over whether predictable external load perturbations result in anticipatory grip force responses (e.g. Blakemore et al. in J Neurosci 18(18):7511-7518, 1998; Weeks et al. in Exp Brain Res 132:404-410, 2000). This paper investigated whether the discrepancies reflect differences in the methods used in estimating the time delay. Subjects held a manipulandum that delivered load force perturbations in the form of pulses of variable duration and interval or periodic 0.5 and 1 Hz square waves or sinusoids. The grip forces exerted by the subjects were measured. Two methods were used to assess the time delay of the grip force in relation to the load force: (1) cross-spectral analysis, (2) a single threshold method applied on time-locked averaged data. Despite a phase lag shown by the cross-spectral analysis, the threshold method revealed grip force increased 264.8+/-40.2 ms before the onset of the load force when 0.5 Hz square waves were used as the load force perturbation and 70.2+/-17.0 ms before the load force when 1 Hz square waves were used. Computer simulations indicated that the single threshold method gives a more sensitive estimate of the onset time than the cross-spectral analysis. We conclude that discrepancies in previous studies reflect differences in the methods used to assess the time-delay and that there is an anticipatory component in the grip force response to predictable external load perturbation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-190
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2006


  • response time
  • grip force
  • anticipatory motor control
  • human


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