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Exp Brain Res. 2007 Apr;178(4):565-70. Epub 2007 Mar 23.

The dominant and nondominant arms are specialized for stabilizing different features of task performance.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.


We have previously proposed a model of motor lateralization, in which the two arms are differentially specialized for complementary control processes. During aimed movements, the dominant arm shows advantages for coordinating intersegmental dynamics as required for specifying trajectory speed and direction, while the nondominant arm shows advantages in controlling limb impedance, as required for accurate final position control. We now directly test this model of lateralization by comparing performance of the two arms under two different tasks: one in which reaching movement is made from one fixed starting position to three different target positions; and the other in which reaching is made from three different starting positions to one fixed target position. For the dominant arm, performance was most accurate when reaching from one fixed starting position to multiple targets. In contrast, nondominant arm performance was most accurate when reaching toward a single target from multiple start locations. These findings contradict the idea that motor lateralization reflects a global advantage of one "dominant" hemisphere/limb system. Instead, each hemisphere/limb system appears specialized for stabilizing different aspects of task performance.

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