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Original Article

Where to Grasp a Tool?

Task-Dependent Adjustments of Tool Transformations by Tool Users

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1027/2151-2604/a000089

Biomechanical and environmental constraints limit body movements and tool use actions. However, in the case of tool use, such constraints can often be overcome by adjusting a tool’s tool transformation to the requirements of the intended tool use action. The research presented here examined whether participants grasped a lever at different positions, thus modifying the lever’s tool transformation, to accommodate speed and accuracy requirements of different tasks. Participants were asked to quickly track a sequence of targets with the lever. If accuracy requirements were high, participants compensated for limits in the accuracy of hand movements by grasping the lever at a position that enabled precise control of the lever. If accuracy requirements were low, participants compensated for limits in hand speed by grasping the lever at a position that enabled fast lever movements with comparatively slow hand movements. This task-dependent grasp selection was only present after participants had practiced the tasks. The data show that in addition to adapting to fixed tool transformations, participants also actively controlled tool transformations to facilitate tool use actions.

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