Interlimb Responses to Perturbations of Bilateral Movements are Asymmetric

Jacob E Schaffer, Robert L Sainburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Previous research has revealed rapid feedback mediated responses in one arm to mechanical perturbations applied to the other arm during shared bimanual tasks. We now ask whether these interlimb responses are expressed symmetrically. We tested this question in a virtual reality environment: a cursor representing each hand was used to 'pick up' each end of a virtual bar and place it into a target trough. Near the onset of occasional, unpredictable trials, one arm was perturbed. Regardless of which arm was perturbed, ipsilateral responses were significant during the perturbation. However, responses in the arm contralateral to the perturbation were asymmetric. While the non-dominant arm showed a significant kinematic response to correct the bar orientation when the dominant arm was mechanically perturbed, the dominant arm did not respond when the non-dominant arm was perturbed. We also saw an asymmetric response in early EMG activity, in which only the non-dominant anterior deltoid showed a significant reflex response within 100 milliseconds of perturbation onset in response to dominant arm. This response was consistent with correcting the bar position, but not with correcting its orientation. We conclude that responses to perturbations during bilateral movements are expressed asymmetrically, such that non-dominant arm responses to perturbations to the dominant arm are stronger than dominant arm responses to non-dominant arm perturbations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of motor behavior
StateE-pub ahead of print - May 7 2020
Externally publishedYes


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