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Independent on-line control of the two hands during bimanual reaching


: Dr J. Diedrichsen, as above.2


Many studies on bimanual coordination have shown that people exhibit a preference for mirror-symmetric movements. We demonstrate that this constraint is absent when bimanual reaching movements are made to visual targets. We investigated the ability of humans to make on-line adjustments during such movements when one or both targets were displaced during the initial phase of the movements. Adjustments were as efficient during bimanual as unimanual movements, even when two adjustments had to be made simultaneously. When one target was displaced in the bimanual condition, the hand reaching to that target adjusted efficiently to the displacement. However, a small transient perturbation in the trajectory of the other hand was also observed. This perturbation was in the same direction as the displacement, rather than in mirror-symmetric direction. A control experiment demonstrated that these perturbations could be elicited by visual information alone, but that they were also influenced by whether an adjustment was required in the trajectory of the other hand. Our results demonstrate near independent control of the two arms during visually guided reaching. The subtle interference observed between the arms reflects interactions between target-related representations in visual coordinates rather than between movement-related representations in joint- or muscle-coordinates.