Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 6, pp 1801–1813 | Cite as

Complexity of movement preparation and the spatiotemporal coupling of bimanual reach-to-grasp movements

  • Jarrod BlinchEmail author
  • Jon B. Doan
  • Claudia L. R. Gonzalez
Research Article


There is a movement preparation cost for bimanual asymmetric reaching movements compared to bimanual symmetric movements. This is likely caused by the complex spatiotemporal coupling of bimanual asymmetric movements. The spatiotemporal coupling of bimanual reach-to-grasp movements has been investigated, but not the potential movement preparation costs. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between movement preparation costs and spatiotemporal coupling of reach-to-grasp movements. Twenty-four participants made unimanual, bimanual symmetric, and bimanual asymmetric reach-to-grasp movements in four-choice reaction time tasks. There was a movement preparation cost for bimanual symmetric reach-to-grasp movements compared to unimanual movements, which was not previously seen for reaching movements. Coordinating two symmetric grasps probably caused this bimanual symmetric cost, as we have previously shown that there is no bimanual symmetric cost for reaching movements. It was also surprising that the complexity of movement preparation was comparable for bimanual symmetric and asymmetric reach-to-grasp movements. However, the spatial coupling of bimanual asymmetric movements at movement initiation suggested that they were prepared as bimanual symmetric movements. Online control was then used to modify these symmetric reach-to-grasp movements into asymmetric movements. Preparing bimanual symmetric reach-to-grasp movements in advance instead of asymmetric movements likely prevented a bimanual asymmetric cost.


Movement preparation costs Spatiotemporal coupling Reach-to-grasp movements Bimanual symmetric and asymmetric movements 



We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful critiques. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada supported this research with a Tier II Canada Research Chair and a Discovery Grant awarded to Claudia Gonzalez.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

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.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Kinesiology and Physical EducationUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  2. 2.Department of Kinesiology and Sport ManagementTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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