Perceptual basis of bimanual coordination

Mechsner, Franz, Kerzel, Dirk, Knoblich, Giinther and Prinz, Wolfgang (2001) Perceptual basis of bimanual coordination. Nature, 414. pp. 69-73. ISSN 0028-0836

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Periodic bimanual movements are often the focus of studies of the basic organizational principles of human actions1±25. In such movements there is a typical spontaneous tendency towards mirror symmetry. Even involuntary slips from asymmetrical movement patterns into symmetry occur, but not vice versa. Traditionally, this phenomenon has been interpreted as a tendency towards co-activation of homologous muscles, probably originating in motoric neuronal structures. Here we provide evidence contrary to this widespread assumption. We show for two prominent experimental models – bimanual four-finger oscillation and bimanual four-finger tapping – that the symmetry bias is actually towards spatial, perceptual symmetry, without regard to the muscles involved. We suggest that spontaneous coordination phenomena of this kind are purely perceptual in nature. In the case of a bimanual circling model, our findings reveal that highly complex, even `impossible' movements can easily be performed with only simple visual feedback. A `motoric' representation of the performed perceptual oscillation patterns is not necessary. Thus there is no need to translate such a `motoric' into a `perceptual' representation or vice versa, using `internal models' (ref. 29). We suggest that voluntary movements are organized by way of a representation of the perceptual goals, whereas the corresponding motor activity, of sometimes high complexity, is spontaneously and flexibly tuned in.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Motor ability
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2008 13:51
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2017 11:36

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