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J Mot Behav. 1987 Dec;19(4):486-517.

Asymmetric division of labor in human skilled bimanual action: the kinematic chain as a model.

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Unité de Neurosciences Cognitives, Laboratoire de Neurosciences Fonctionnelles, Centre National de la Recherche Scienctifique, Marseille Cedex 9, France.

Erratum in

  • J Mot Behav. 1988 Sep;20(3):374.


This article presents a tentative theoretical framework for the study of asymmetry in the context of human bimanual action. It is emphasized that in man most skilled manual activities involve two hands playing different roles, a fact that has been often overlooked in the experimental study of human manual lateralization. As an alternative to the current concepts of manual preference and manual superiority-whose relevance is limited to the particular case of unimanual actions-the more general concept of lateral preference is proposed to denote preference for one of the two possible ways of assigning two roles to two hands. A simple model describing man's favored intermanual division of labor in the model are the following. 1) The two hands represent two motors, that is, decomplexity is ignored in the suggested approach. 2) In man, the two manual motors cooperate with one another as if they were assembled in series, thereby forming a kinematic chain: In a right-hander allowed to follow his or her lateral preferences, motion produced by the right hand tends to articulate with motion produced by the left. It is suggested that the kinematic chain model may help in understanding the adaptive advantage of human manual specialization.

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