Experimental Brain Research

, 113:365 | Cite as

What is the role of the corpus callosum in intermanual transfer of motor skills? A study of three cases with callosal pathology

  • Gregor Thut
  • Ulrike Halsband
  • Marianne Regard
  • Eugène Mayer
  • Klaus L. Leenders
  • Theodor Landis
Research Note


Intermanual transfer for a skilled motor task was studied in two patients with total callosal agenesis, and one with an acquired partial callosal lesion and clinical evidence for disturbed transfer of motor signals. Patients had to draw meaningless figures with one upper extremity (original learning, OL) and to reproduce their mirror-reversals thereafter with the other side (transfer learning, TL). Both directions of intermanual transfer were tested in two conditions, that is, between either proximal or distal muscle groups. Transfer was evaluated by comparing OL and TL performance at the same effector. The main variable of interest was movement time during the first eight trials of OL and TL. All three patients displayed a significant benefit for transfer from the dominant to the non-dominant hand but not vice versa during proximal motor activity. When compared with the performance of healthy subjects tested in almost identical conditions in a previously reported study, the proximal transfer behavior was found to be similar for all patients and the normal group. Although patients exhibited no significant benefit for distal transfer, their non-dominant-to-dominant distal transfer was above the normal range. The similar transfer pattern of the patients and healthy subjects when using proximal musculature suggests that proximal transfer may be subserved by identical extracallosal pathways, most probably by the ipsilaterally descending motor systems. Since non-dominant-to-dominant distal transfer was found to be disadvantageous in healthy subjects, the patients' relative superiority in this condition may reflect missing callosal influences of an inhibitory nature.

Key words

Callosal pathology Motor transfer Distal and proximal movements Interhemispheric communication Ipsilateral motor pathways 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregor Thut
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ulrike Halsband
    • 3
  • Marianne Regard
    • 1
  • Eugène Mayer
    • 4
  • Klaus L. Leenders
    • 1
    • 2
  • Theodor Landis
    • 4
  1. 1.Neurology Department, Neuropsychological UnitUniversity Hospital ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Paul Scherrer InstituteVilligenSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyUniversity HospitalDüsseldorfGermany
  4. 4.Department of NeurologyUniversity HospitalGenevaSwitzerland

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