, Volume 224, Issue 3, pp 455-467

Hand use for grasping in a bimanual task: evidence for different roles?

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Abstract

It has been proposed that the two hands play different roles during bimanual object interaction. The right hand takes on an explorative, highly precise, manipulative role while the left hand supports and stabilizes the object. Does this division of labour influence hand use during visually guided grasping? Three experiments were designed to address this question: right-handed individuals put together 3D models using big or small building blocks scattered across a tabletop. Participants were free to build the models; however, it felt comfortable (Experiment 1) or they were required to build on a large (Experiment 2) or small (Experiment 3) base plate. In Experiment 1, the right hand was preferred for grasping while the left hand stabilized the building model. When participants used the large base plate (Experiment 2), right hand use for grasping decreased and left hand use increased. The plate provided freedom to the left hand from having to stabilize the building model, but it also interfered with right/left hand movements directed towards the opposite side of the grasping hand (contralateral movements). To investigate which of these two factors would explain the change in hand use for grasping, a very small base plate was used in the last experiment. Results showed similar right hand use values to those seen in the first experiment (without the use of a plate), even though the left hand was ‘released from its stabilizing duties.’ The results predict a left-hemisphere right hand advantage in the control of grasping.