Get access

Differential cortical activity for precision and whole-hand visually guided grasping in humans


Dr Umberto Castiello, 3Dipartimento di Psicologia Generale, as above.


Effective grasping involves the remarkable ability to implement multiple grasp configurations such as precision grip (PG; opposition between the index finger and thumb) and whole-hand grasp (WHG), depending on the properties of the object grasped (e.g. size, shape and weight). In the monkey brain, different groups of cells in the anterior–lateral bank of the intraparietal sulcus (area AIP) are differentially active for various hand configurations during grasping of differently shaped objects. Visually guided grasping studies in humans suggest the anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS) as the homologue of macaque area AIP, but leave unresolved the question of whether activity in human aIPS reflects the relationship between object size and grasp configuration, as in macaques. To address this issue, a human fMRI study was conducted in which objects were grasped with the right hand while object size was varied. The results indicated that the left aIPS was active when the subjects naturally adopted a PG to grasp the small object but showed a much weaker response when subjects naturally adopted a WHG to grasp the large object. The primary motor cortex and somatosensory cortices were active for both PG and WHG. Our results suggest that, in humans, the aIPS is centrally involved in determining the type of grasp.