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Interlimb differences in coordination of rapid wrist/forearm movements


We have previously proposed a model of motor lateralization that attributes specialization for predictive control of intersegmental coordination to the dominant hemisphere/limb system, and control of limb impedance to the non-dominant system. This hypothesis was developed based on visually targeted discrete reaching movement made predominantly with the shoulder and elbow joints. The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether dominant arm advantages for multi-degree of freedom coordination also occur during continuous distal movements of the wrist that do not involve visual guidance. In other words, are the advantages of the dominant arm restricted to controlling intersegmental coordination during discrete visually targeted reaching movements, or are they more generally related to coordination of multiple degrees of freedom at other joints, regardless of whether the movements are discrete or invoke visual guidance? Eight right-handed participants were instructed to perform alternating wrist ulnar/radial deviation movements at two instructed speeds, slow and fast, with the dominant or the non-dominant arm, and were instructed not to rotate the forearm (pronation/supination) or move the wrist up and down (flexion/extension). This was explained by slowly and passively moving the wrist in each plane during the instructions. Because all the muscles that cross the wrist have moment arms with respect to more than one axis of rotation, intermuscular coordination is required to prevent motion about non-instructed axes of rotation. We included two conditions, a very slow condition, as a control condition, to demonstrate understanding of the task, and an as-fast-as-possible condition to challenge predictive aspect of control, which we hypothesize are specialized to the dominant controller. Our results indicated that during as-fast-as-possible conditions the non-dominant arm incorporated significantly more non-instructed motion, which resulted in greater circumduction at the non-dominant than the dominant wrist. These findings extend the dynamic dominance hypothesis, indicating that the dominant hemisphere-arm system is specialized for predictive control of multiple degrees of freedom, even in movements of the distal arm and made in the absence of visual guidance.

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We would like to acknowledge Dr. David A Wagstaff for his help in the statistical analysis.

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Correspondence to Gautum A. Srinivasan.

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Srinivasan, G.A., Embar, T. & Sainburg, R. Interlimb differences in coordination of rapid wrist/forearm movements. Exp Brain Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-020-05743-9

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  • Handedness
  • Radial/ulnar deviation
  • Predictive coordination
  • Lateralization