Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 10, pp 2639–2648 | Cite as

The influence of obstacles on grasp planning

  • Isabelle T. GarzorzEmail author
  • Alexander G. Knorr
  • Rene Gilster
  • Heiner Deubel
Research Article


When reaching to grasp for an object in the absence of obstacles, the choice of contact points is highly consistent within and between healthy humans, suggesting a preplanning of grasping movements (Gilster et al. in Exp Brain Res 217:137–151, 2012). In real life, objects may obstruct the favored contact points at a target object, requiring adjustments to avoid collision. In the present study, we investigated how an obstacle that directly obstructs the favored contact points for two-digit grasping changes the planning and execution of reach-to-grasp movements. Furthermore, we elucidated to what extent an obstacle placed at various angular positions around the target object (thereby not directly obstructing the favored contact points) still influences trajectories, contact points, and time-related parameters. When obstacles directly obstructed favored contact points participants either chose a completely new contact point or grasped the object only slightly away from the favored contact point. Obstacles located near the favored contact points but not directly obstructing them still resulted in a repulsive effect, meaning that contact points were shifted away from the obstacle to ensure sufficient distance to the obstacle. We found that the position of an obstacle even influences the direction in which the fingers set off. This leads to a deviation of the trajectory very early in the time course, yielding longer movement times if the main contact points are obstructed. Taken together, the early significant influence of obstacles on the grasping movement supports the assumption that grasping movements are preplanned.


Grasping Motor planning Collision avoidance Grasp planning 



This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (GI 964/1).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Center for Vertigo and Balance Disorders (DSGZ), University Hospital of MunichLudwig-Maximilians-UniversitätMunichGermany
  2. 2.Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN)Ludwig-Maximilians-UniversitätPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany
  3. 3.Center for Sensorimotor ResearchUniversity Hospital GroßhadernMunichGermany
  4. 4.Institute for Cognitive Systems, TUM Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringTechnical University of MunichMunichGermany
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyLudwig-Maximilians-UniversitätMunichGermany

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