Manual Function in Cebus apella. Digital Mobility, Preshaping, and Endurance in Repetitive Grasping

Authors: Christel, M.I.1; Fragaszy, D.2

Source: International Journal of Primatology, Volume 21, Number 4, August 2000 , pp. 697-719(23)

Publisher: Springer

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Manual dexterity varies across species of primates in accord with hand morphology and degree of fine motor control of the digits. Platyrrhine monkeys achieve less direct opposition between thumb and index finger than that of catarrhine primates, and many of them typically whole-hand grip. However, tufted capuchins (Cebus apella), exhibit a degree of independent control of the digits and effective thumb–forefinger opposition. We report how capuchins prehended small objects, with particular attention to the form of sequential fine movements of the fingers, choice of hand, and differences between the two hands in the temporal properties of reaching and grasping. We compare these actions across tasks with differing demands for fine motor control. For tasks that required all the digits to flex in synchrony, capuchins displayed smooth, fast, and efficient reach-to-grasp movements and a higher endurance than for tasks requiring more complex digital coordination. These latter tasks induced a slightly differentiated preshaping of the hand when approaching the objects, indicating preparation for grasping in advance of contact with the object. A right-hand preponderance for complex digital coordination was evident. The monkeys coordinated their fingers rather poorly at the substrate, and they took longer to achieve control of the objects when complex coordination was required than when simultaneous flexion was sufficient. We conclude that precise finger coordination is more effortful and less well coordinated, and the coordination is less lateralized, in capuchins than in catarrhine primates.

Keywords: capuchin monkeys; dexterity; hand asymmetry; movement coordination; precision grips

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Biologie, Institut für Anthropologie und Humanbiologie, Berlin, Germany. 2: Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2000

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