A Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective on Bimanual Coordination and Interference

  • Richard Ivry
  • Jörn Diedrichsen
  • Rebecca Spencer
  • Eliot Hazeltine
  • Andras Semjen


We argue that bimanual coordination and interference depends critically on how these actions are represented on a cognitive level. We first review the literature on spatial interactions, focusing on the difference between movements directed at visual targets and movements cued symbolically. Interactions manifest during response planning are limited to the latter condition. These results suggest that interactions in the formation of the trajectories of the two hands are associated with processes involved in response selection, rather than interactions in the motor system. Neuropsychological studies involving callosotomy patients argue that these interactions arise from transcallosal interactions between cortically-based spatial codes. The second half of the chapter examines temporal constraints observed in bimanual movements. We propose that most bimanual movements are marked by a common event structure, an explicit representation that ensures temporal coordination of the movements. The translation of an abstract event structure into a movement with a particular timing pattern is associated with cerebellar function, although the resulting temporal coupling during bimanual movements may be due to the operation of other subcortical mechanisms. For rhythmic movements that do not entail an event structure, timing may be an emergent property. Under such conditions, both spatial and temporal coupling can be absent. The emphasis on abstract levels of constraint makes clear that limitations in bimanual coordination overlap to a considerable degree with those observed in other domains of cognition.

Key words

bimanual coordination spatial coupling temporal coupling response selection event timing callosotomy cerebellum neuropsychology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Ivry
    • 1
  • Jörn Diedrichsen
    • 1
  • Rebecca Spencer
    • 1
  • Eliot Hazeltine
    • 2
  • Andras Semjen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Helen Wills Neuroscience InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IowaUSA
  3. 3.CNRS MarseilleFrance

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