During reaching to grasp objects with different shapes hand posture is molded gradually to the object's contours. The present study examined the extent to which the temporal evolution of hand posture depends on continuous visual feedback. We asked subjects to reach and grasp objects with different shapes under five vision conditions (VCs). Subjects wore liquid crystal spectacles that occluded vision at four different latencies from onset of the reach. As a control, full-vision trials (VC5) were interspersed among the blocked vision trials. Object shapes and all VCs were presented to the subjects in random order. Hand posture was measured by 15 sensors embedded in a glove. Linear regression analysis, discriminant analysis, and information theory were used to assess the effect of removing vision on the temporal evolution of hand shape. We found that reach duration increased when vision was occluded early in the reach. This was caused primarily by a slower approach of the hand toward the object near the end of the reach. However, vision condition did not have a significant effect on the covariation patterns of joint rotations, indicating that the gradual evolution of hand posture occurs in a similar fashion regardless of vision. Discriminant analysis further supported this interpretation, as the extent to which hand posture resembled object shape and the rate at which hand posture discrimination occurred throughout the movement were similar across vision conditions. These results extend previous observations on memory-guided reaches by showing that continuous visual feedback of the hand and/or object is not necessary to allow the hand to gradually conform to object contours.
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