Spatial constraints in bimanual coordination: influences of effector orientation
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Two experiments are reported that examined the influence of spatial orientation of the upper limbs in bimanual coordination. In both experiments, the upper limbs were oriented in either parallel, orthogonal, or obtuse spatial configurations and participants were asked to move their limbs continuously in temporal (1:1) synchrony, prepared in either in-phase or anti-phase modes of coordination. Bimanual coordination trials in Experiment 1 were paced by a metronome at one of four frequencies (1.0, 1.5, 2.0 or 2.5 Hz). Measures of relative phase accuracy and stability both revealed that, as metronome frequency increased, in-phase coordination dominated for the parallel spatial orientation, anti-phase coordination dominated for the orthogonal spatial orientation, and neither pattern dominated for the obtuse spatial orientations. In Experiment 2, an intentional switch method replicated and extended these influences of spatial orientation. The time to voluntarily switch from an anti-phase pattern to an in-phase pattern was faster than an in-phase to anti-phase switch (confirming support for the dominance of the in-phase pattern), but this was true only for the parallel spatial orientation. The reverse was true for the orthogonal spatial orientation (i.e., faster from in-phase to anti-phase), and no difference in switch times was observed for an obtuse spatial orientation. These findings support and extend previous research regarding the influence of spatial orientation in bimanual coordination and may be attributed to the role of, and potential interactions between, egocentric, allocentric, and mechanical constraints during action.
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