The aim of the study was to evaluate grip force (GF; normal component of hand-object interaction) adaptation across different manipulation conditions. We hypothesized (1) that the absolute safety margin (the difference between the exerted GF and the minimum GF that prevents slippage; absolute SM), rather than the relative SM (the same difference relative to the minimum GF required), could be an invariant feature of manipulation, as well as (2) that the SM would be higher in static than in dynamic tasks. Fourteen participants performed the free holding and the static holding tasks that required a same pulling force. Each task was performed using a variety of grasps and two different object coatings that both provided different frictions acting between the hand and the hand-held object. Both tasks revealed an increase in the relative SM associated with an increase in friction, while the absolute SM either remained unchanged (free holding) or suggested a moderate negative relationship (static holding task). Both relative and absolute SM were also higher in the free holding than in the static holding. The later result could be a consequence of the task mechanical conditions (i.e., dynamic vs. static), rather than of the difference in neural control mechanisms (feedback vs. feed-forward, respectively). The obtained findings suggest that the absolute SM (rather than the relative one) should be used in future studies of hand force coordination in healthy and clinical populations, while GF adaptation obtained from static and dynamic manipulation tasks should be separately assessed.
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