Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 81, Issue 7, pp 2217–2236 | Cite as

On the Neurocircuitry of Grasping: The influence of action intent on kinematic asymmetries in reach-to-grasp actions

  • Jason FlindallEmail author
  • Claudia L. R. Gonzalez
Time for Action: Reaching for a Better Understanding of the Dynamics of Cognition


Evidence from electrophysiology suggests that nonhuman primates produce reach-to-grasp movements based on their functional end goal rather than on the biomechanical requirements of the movement. However, the invasiveness of direct-electrical stimulation and single-neuron recording largely precludes analogous investigations in humans. In this review, we present behavioural evidence in the form of kinematic analyses suggesting that the cortical circuits responsible for reach-to-grasp actions in humans are organized in a similar fashion. Grasp-to-eat movements are produced with significantly smaller and more precise maximum grip apertures (MGAs) than are grasp-to-place movements directed toward the same objects, despite near identical mechanical requirements of the two subsequent (i.e., grasp-to-eat and grasp-to-place) movements. Furthermore, the fact that this distinction is limited to right-handed movements suggests that the system governing reach-to-grasp movements is asymmetric. We contend that this asymmetry may be responsible, at least in part, for the preponderance of right-hand dominance among the global population.


Reach-to-grasp Grasp-to-eat Kinematics Asymmetries Dual visuomotor channel Grip aperture Handedness 


Compliance with ethical standards

Authors’ statement

The data and code used to prepare the current report have been made available at ( The authors would like to thank the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC; Grant No. CGSD2-476054-2015) and the University of Lethbridge for their financial support. We declare that neither funding source had any role in study design, or in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data. This manuscript was prepared and submitted without input from either institution. Neither J.F. nor C.L.R.G. have any financial conflicts of interest to declare.


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© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of Kinesiology and Physical EducationUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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