The kinematics of eating with a spoon: Bringing the food to the mouth to the food

J. van der Kamp, B. Steenbergen

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    In traditional reach-to-point and reach-to-grasp studies an increase in accuracy demands typically results in a lengthening of the deceleration phase of the reach and a freezing of the more distal joints. The purpose of the present experiment was to examine whether similar changes in the reach kinematics could be observed during a tool-using skill, as would be predicted from an effector independence perspective. Five subjects were required to eat two substances (i.e. a solid and a liquid one) that imposed different requirements on the accuracy of the movement. The subjects transported the substances from the plate into the mouth. A prolonged movement duration was found for the liquid as compared to the solid substance. However, rather than being exclusively due to a lengthening of deceleration phase, the larger movement duration resulted from a slowing down of the whole movement. Therefore, the skewed velocity profiles found in the traditional reach-to-grasp studies may well be the result of the accuracy demands only impinging on the final part of the movement trajectory, rather than being a consequence of central, effector-independent, organising principles. In addition, under increased accuracy demands subjects were shown to redistribute their movement in a proximodistal direction. Movements of the distal components were reduced to a minimum and the involvement of trunk and head movement increased.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)68-76
    JournalExperimental Brain Research
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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