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What gives us fingertip dexterity?
Date:1/23/2008

motor centers associated with hand function.

If, indeed, the nervous system faced evolutionary pressures to be able to anticipate and precisely control routine tasks like rapid precision pinch, the cortical structures for sensorimotor integration for finger function would probably need to be pretty well developed in the brain, Valero-Cuevas said.

That would give us the neural circuits needed for careful timing of motor actions and fine control of finger muscles, he said. Thus, our work begins to propose some functional justifications for the evolution of specialized brain areas controlling dexterous manipulation of the fingertips in humans.

By understanding the neuromuscular principles behind dexterous manipulation, Valero-Cuevas hopes to help those who have lost the use of their hands by guiding rehabilitation and helping to develop the next generation of prosthetics. In addition, the work will allow industry to build machines that have versatility comparable to that of the human hand.

As an analogy, I ask people to imagine going through life wearing winter gloves, he said. If you can grasp things in only the grossest of ways without fine manipulation, life is pretty difficult. Yet millions of people worldwide go through life without the full use of their hands. Diseases and aging processes that affect the hand function tend to disproportionately degrade the quality of life, and we want to reverse that.


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Contact: Diane Ainsworth
dainswor@usc.edu
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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