Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 237, Issue 5, pp 1169–1177 | Cite as

Ecological validity of manual grasping movements in an everyday-like grocery shopping task

  • Kyungwan KimEmail author
  • Otmar Bock
Research Article


In our earlier research, kinematic and kinetic parameters of grasping differed significantly when participants grasped the same object once in a traditional laboratory paradigm, and once as part of a captivating computer game. We attributed this finding to the fact that grasping movements in the laboratory were repetitive and meaningless, while those in the computer game were embedded in complex behavior and served a meaningful purpose. In that work, we argued that grasping in the computer game is more characteristic of everyday life behavior; however, this conclusion has been criticized on the grounds that a computer game is not a typical everyday activity. The present study therefore compares grasping in a traditional laboratory paradigm to that in an indisputably everyday context: grocery shopping. Thirty-three young adults executed externally triggered arm movements to grasp nondescript objects (laboratory task, L) and place them on a tablet, or they walked through a fictitious grocery store towards a shelf to grasp grocery products and placed them into a shopping basket (everyday-like task, E). Size, shape, weight and location of to-be-grasped objects were identical in both tasks. We found that of the analyzed 16 kinematic parameters, 13 differed significantly between tasks. Specifically, grip apertures were larger, movements were slower and grip–transport coupling was more variable in E compared to L. We conclude that kinematic differences between both persist even if task is more realistic than in our earlier research. Our findings are compatible with the notion that movement planning is less stringent in E than in L.


Ecological validity Manual grasping Grip aperture Context dependence Grocery shopping 



We wish to thank Nils Meixner, Sylvester Prokopenko and Annika Gerspitzer for their support in data collection and analysis. This work was conducted without external funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Acker MB (1990) A review of the ecological validity of neuropsychological tests. In: Tupper DE, Cicerone KD (eds) The neuropsychology of everyday life: assessment and basic competencies. Springer, Kluwer, pp 19–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adam JJ, Nieuwenstein JH, Huys R et al (2000) Control of rapid aimed hand movements: the one-target advantage. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 26:295–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Allport A, Styles E, Hsieh S (1994) Shifting intentional set: exploring the dynamic control of tasks. In: Kornblum S, Umiltà C, Moscovitch M (eds) Attention and performance XV. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, pp 421–452Google Scholar
  4. Ansuini C, Giosa L, Turella L et al (2008) An object for an action, the same object for other actions: effects on hand shaping. Exp Brain Res 185:111–119. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baak B, Bock O (2015) Context-dependence of aimed arm movements: a transitory or a stable phenomenon? Int J Kinesiol Sport Sci. Google Scholar
  6. Baak B, Bock O, Dovern A et al (2015) Deficits of reach-to-grasp coordination following stroke: comparison of instructed and natural movements. Neuropsychologia 77:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bock O (1996) Grasping of virtual objects in changed gravity. Aviat Space Environ Med 67:1185–1189Google Scholar
  8. Bock O, Baak B (2013) Dependence of manual grasping on the behavioral context: a comparison between arms and between age groups. Psychology 04:998–1003. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bock O, Hagemann A (2010) An experimental paradigm to compare motor performance under laboratory and under everyday-like conditions. J Neurosci Methods 193:24–28. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bock O, Jüngling S (1999) Reprogramming of grip aperture in a double-step virtual grasping paradigm. Exp Brain Res 125:61–66. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bock O, Steinberg F (2012) Age-related deficits of manual grasping in a labortory versus in an everyday-like context. Ageing Res 4:48–52Google Scholar
  12. Bock O, Züll A (2013) Characteristics of grasping movements in a laboratory and in an everyday-like context. Hum Mov Sci 32:249–256. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Borchers S, Himmelbach M (2012) The recognition of everyday objects changes grasp scaling. Vis Res 67:8–13. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Burgess PW, Alderman N, Evans J et al (1998) The ecological validity of tests of executive function. J Int Neuropsychol Soc 4:547–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Buxbaum LJ, Johnson-Frey SH, Bartlett-Williams M (2005) Deficient internal models for planning hand–object interactions in apraxia. Neuropsychologia 43:917–929. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Castiello U (2005) The neuroscience of grasping. Nat Rev Neurosci 6:726–736. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chamberlin CJ, Magill RA (1989) Preparation and control of rapid, multisegmented responses in simple and choice environments. Res Q Exerc Sport 60:256–267. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chaytor N, Schmitter-Edgecombe M (2003) The ecological validity of neuropsychological tests: a review of the literature on everyday cognitive skills. Neuropsychol Rev 13:181–197. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Daly JA, Miller MD (1975) Apprehension of writing as a predictor of message intensity. J Psychol 89:175–177. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Daprati E, Sirigu A (2006) How we interact with objects: learning from brain lesions. Trends Cogn Sci 10:265–270. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dubrowski A, Bock O, Carnahan H, Jüngling S (2002) The coordination of hand transport and grasp formation during single- and double-perturbed human prehension movements. Exp Brain Res 145:365–371. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Flanagan JR, Tresilian JR (1994) Grip-load force coupling: a general control strategy for transporting objects. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 20:944–957CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goodale M, Milner AD (1992) Separate visual pathways for perception and action [review] [61 refs]. Trends Neurosci 15:20–25. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Haggard P, Wing AM (1991) Remote responses to perturbation in human prehension. Neurosci Lett 122:103–108. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Henry FM, Rogers DE (1960) Increased response latency for complicated movements and a “memory drum” theory of neuromotor reaction. Res Q Am Assoc Health Phys Educ Recreat 31:448–458. Google Scholar
  26. Hermsdörfer J, Marquardt C, Philipp J et al (2000) Moving weightless objects. Grip force control during microgravity. Exp Brain Res 132:52–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Howard LA, Tipper SP (1997) Hand deviations away from visual cues: indirect evidence for inhibition. Exp Brain Res 113:144–152. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jeannerod M (1981) Intersegmental coordination during reaching at natural visual objects. Erlbaum, HillsdaleGoogle Scholar
  29. Johansson RS, Cole KJ (1992) Sensory-motor coordination manipulative during actions grasping and. Curr Opin Neurobiol 2:815–823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kim Y, Kim WS, Koh K et al (2016) Deficits in motor abilities for multi-finger force control in hemiparetic stroke survivors. Exp Brain Res 234:2391–2402. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kleinschmidt A, Bu C, Hutton C et al (2002) Expressing perceptual hysteresis in visual letter recognition. Neuron 34:659–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lohse KR, Sherwood DE, Healy AF (2010) How changing the focus of attention affects performance, kinematics, and electromyography in dart throwing. Hum Mov Sci 29:542–555. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. McCarley JS, Kramer AF, DiGirolamo GJ (2003) Differential effects of the Müller–Lyer illusion on reflexive and voluntary saccades. J Vis 3:9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Monsell S, Sumner P, Waters H (2003) Task-set reconfiguration with predictable and unpredictable task switches. Mem Cogn 31:327–342. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Munzert J, Maurer H, Reiser M (2014) Verbal-motor attention-focusing instructions influence kinematics and performance on a golf-putting task. J Mot Behav 46:309–318. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Raphan T, Imai T, Moore ST, Cohen B (2001) Vestibular compensation and orientation during locomotion. Ann N Y Acad Sci 942:128–138. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Richardson MJ, Marsh KL, Baron RM (2007) Judging and actualizing intrapersonal and interpersonal affordances. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 33:845–859CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rinaldi NM, Moraes R (2015) Gait and reach-to-grasp movements are mutually modified when performed simultaneously. Hum Mov Sci 40:38–58. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rinaldi NM, Lim J, Hamill J et al (2018) Walking combined with reach-to-grasp while crossing obstacles at different distances. Gait Posture 65:1–7. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rossetti Y, Pisella L (2002) Several “vision for action” systems: a guide to dissociating and integrating dorsal and ventral functions (Tutorial). Common Mech Percept action (Attention Perform) 110:62–119Google Scholar
  41. Steinberg F, Bock O (2013a) Context dependence of manual grasping movements in near weightlessness. Aviat Sp Environ Med 84:467–472. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Steinberg F, Bock O (2013b) Influence of cognitive functions and behavioral context on grasping kinematics. Exp Brain Res 225:387–397. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Steinberg F, Bock O (2013c) Effects of the motivation focus on manual grasping. Psychol Neurosci 6:375–381. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Steinberg F, Bock O (2013d) The context dependence of grasping movements: an evaluation of possible reasons. Exp Brain Res. Google Scholar
  45. Steinberg F, Vogt T (2015) Context-dependent neuroelectric responses during motor control. Behav Brain Res 281:301–308. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Verhaeghen P, Martin M, Sędek G (2012) Reconnecting cognition in the lab and cognition in real life: the role of compensatory social and motivational factors in explaining how cognition ages in the wild. Neuropsychol Dev Cogn B Aging Neuropsychol Cogn 19:1–12. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Waszak F, Wascher E, Keller P et al (2005) Intention-based and stimulus-based mechanisms in action selection. Exp Brain Res 162:346–356. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weigelt C, Bock O (2007) Adaptation of grasping responses to distorted object size and orientation. Exp Brain Res 181:139–146. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wing AM, Turton A, Fraser C (1986) Grasp size and accuracy of approach in reaching. J Mot Behav 18:245–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Physiology and AnatomyGerman Sport University CologneCologneGermany

Personalised recommendations