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Using visual and/or kinesthetic information to stabilize intrinsic bimanual coordination patterns is a function of movement frequency


Coordination dynamics suggest that both in-phase and anti-phase movements are intrinsic and can be readily performed without practice. As movement frequency increases, individuals performing anti-phase movement inevitably switch to perform in-phase movement. However, due to different frames of reference used to define intrinsic coordination patterns in visual and kinesthetic domains, the perception of intrinsic coordination patterns could be ambiguous, which leads to the question whether the visually or kinesthetically perceived information is used to maintain the intrinsic coordination patterns. The current study explored how the consistency between visual and kinesthetic information would impact the performance and the associated metabolic energy consumption of intrinsic bimanual coordination patterns as movement frequency increased. Thirty participants were recruited and randomly assigned to one of three groups (“Info + Spatial +”, “Info + Spatial −”, and “Info-Spatial +”) to perform intrinsic bimanual coordination tasks using a computer-joystick system at low, high, and self-selected frequencies. The visual and kinesthetic information were manipulated to be either consistent or inconsistent by changing the spatial mapping between the motion of display and motion of joysticks. The results showed that the kinesthetic information was largely used to maintain the stability of intrinsic coordination patterns at high frequency, which could be an energy-conserving solution. However, spatial mapping alone seemed to be beneficial for keeping the visually perceived in-phase and anti-phase coordination patterns equally stable at low movement frequency, and spatially mapping the visual information to be consistent with kinesthetic information greatly enhanced the stability of anti-phase coordination. The dynamical use of visual and kinesthetic information for control of bimanual coordination is discussed.

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  1. 1.

    Participants saw two white dots moving rhythmically at the target relative phase, either in the same direction at the same time (in-phase), or in the opposite direction at the same time (anti-phase).

  2. 2.

    The feedback was given when the produced relative phase fell within the error bandwidth (i.e., ± 20°); the color of dots changed from white to green.

  3. 3.

    PTT20 is a valid measure of performance at the required relative phase that allows us to assess within-trial stability and eliminate confounds. The validity has been proved in numerous studies (e.g. Bingham et al., 2018; Zhu et al., 2017; Snapp-Childs, Wilson, & Bingham, 2015).


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This study was funded by the UW College of Health Sciences Student Research Grant awarded to the first author. This study was also made possible by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Grant # 2P20GM103432. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIH.

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Correspondence to Qin Zhu.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

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Huang, S., Van Syoc, B., Yang, R. et al. Using visual and/or kinesthetic information to stabilize intrinsic bimanual coordination patterns is a function of movement frequency. Psychological Research (2020).

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