Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 182, Issue 4, pp 567–577 | Cite as

Greater reliance on impedance control in the nondominant arm compared with the dominant arm when adapting to a novel dynamic environment

  • Christopher N. Schabowsky
  • Joseph M. Hidler
  • Peter S. Lum
Research Article


This study investigated differences in adaptation to a novel dynamic environment between the dominant and nondominant arms in 16 naive, right-handed, neurologically intact subjects. Subjects held onto the handle of a robotic manipulandum and executed reaching movements within a horizontal plane following a pseudo-random sequence of targets. Curl field perturbations were imposed by the robot motors, and we compared the rate and quality of adaptation between dominant and nondominant arms. During the early phase of the adaptation time course, the rate of motor adaptation between both arms was similar, but the mean peak and figural error of the nondominant arm were significantly smaller than those of the dominant arm. Also, the nondominant limb’s aftereffects were significantly smaller than in the dominant arm. Thus, the controller of the nondominant limb appears to have relied on impedance control to a greater degree than the dominant limb when adapting to a novel dynamic environment. The results of this study imply that there are differences in dynamic adaptation between an individual’s two arms.


Motor control Motor adaptation Handedness Impedance control Reaching movements 



The authors would like to show our appreciation to Lindsay DiRomualdo, Daniela Monterrubio and Shannon O’Brien for assisting with subject recruitment, testing and analysis. We also acknowledge the Imaging Science and Information Systems (ISIS) Center at Georgetown University for providing the InMotion2 robot.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher N. Schabowsky
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joseph M. Hidler
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter S. Lum
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Applied Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Research (CABRR)National Rehabilitation HospitalWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringThe Catholic University of AmericaWashingtonUSA

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