Coordination is often observed as body parts moving together. However, when producing force with multiple fingers, the optimal coordination is not to produce similar forces with each finger, but rather for each finger to correct mistakes of other fingers. In this study, we aim to determine whether and how this skill develops in children aged 4–12 years. We measured this sort of coordination using the uncontrolled manifold hypothesis (UCM). We recorded finger forces produced by 60 typically developing children aged between 4 and 12 years in a finger-pressing task. The children controlled the height of an object on a screen by the total amount of force they produced on force sensors. We found that the synergy index, a measure of the relationship between “good” and “bad” variance, increased linearly as a function of age. This improvement was achieved by a selective reduction in “bad” variance rather than an increase in “good” variance. We did not observe differences between males and females, and the synergy index was not able to predict outcomes of upper limb behavioral tests after controlling for age. As children develop between the ages of 4 and 12 years, their ability to produce negative covariation between their finger forces improves, likely related to their improved ability to perform dexterous tasks.
- Finger force
- Uncontrolled manifold