The human sensorimotor system is routinely capable of making accurate predictions about an object's weight, which allows for energetically efficient lifts and prevents objects from being dropped. Often however, poor predictions arise when the weight of an object can vary and sensory cues about object weight are sparse (e.g., picking up an opaque water bottle). The question arises, what strategies does the sensorimotor system use to make weight predictions when dealing with an object whose weight may vary? For example, does the sensorimotor system use a strategy that minimizes prediction error (minimal squared error) or one that selects the weight that is most likely to be correct (maximum a posteriori)? Here we dissociated the predictions of these two strategies by having participants lift an object whose weight varied according to a skewed probability distribution. We found, using a small range of weight uncertainty, that four indexes of sensorimotor prediction (grip force rate, grip force, load force rate, and load force) were consistent with a feedforward strategy that minimizes the square of prediction errors. These findings match research in the visuomotor system, suggesting parallels in underlying processes. We interpret our findings within a Bayesian framework and discuss the potential benefits of using a minimal squared error strategy.
- Object lifting
- Fingertip Force
- Feedforward control
- Copyright © 2016, Journal of Neurophysiology