Reaction time asymmetries provide insight into mechanisms underlying dominant and non-dominant hand selection

Brooke Dexheimer, Andrzej Przybyla, Terrence E. Murphy, Selcuk Akpinar, Robert Sainburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Handedness is often thought of as a hand “preference” for specific tasks or components of bimanual tasks. Nevertheless, hand selection decisions depend on many factors beyond hand dominance. While these decisions are likely influenced by which hand might show performance advantages for the particular task and conditions, there also appears to be a bias toward the dominant hand, regardless of performance advantage. This study examined the impact of hand selection decisions and workspace location on reaction time and movement quality. Twenty-six neurologically intact participants performed targeted reaching across the horizontal workspace in a 2D virtual reality environment, and we compared reaction time across two groups: those selecting which hand to use on a trial-by-trial basis (termed the choice group) and those performing the task with a preassigned hand (the no-choice group). Along with reaction time, we also compared reach performance for each group across two ipsilateral workspaces: medial and lateral. We observed a significant difference in reaction time between the hands in the choice group, regardless of workspace. In contrast, both hands showed shorter but similar reaction times and differences between the lateral and medial workspaces in the no-choice group. We conclude that the shorter reaction times of the dominant hand under choice conditions may be due to dominant hand bias in the selection process that is not dependent upon interlimb performance differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2791-2802
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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