Unexpected complexity of everyday manual behaviors

Yuke Yan, James M. Goodman, Dalton D. Moore, Sara A. Solla, Sliman J. Bensmaia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


How does the brain control an effector as complex and versatile as the hand? One possibility is that neural control is simplified by limiting the space of hand movements. Indeed, hand kinematics can be largely described within 8 to 10 dimensions. This oft replicated finding has been construed as evidence that hand postures are confined to this subspace. A prediction from this hypothesis is that dimensions outside of this subspace reflect noise. To address this question, we track the hand of human participants as they perform two tasks—grasping and signing in American Sign Language. We apply multiple dimension reduction techniques and replicate the finding that most postural variance falls within a reduced subspace. However, we show that dimensions outside of this subspace are highly structured and task dependent, suggesting they too are under volitional control. We propose that hand control occupies a higher dimensional space than previously considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3564
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Unexpected complexity of everyday manual behaviors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this