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Dev Psychobiol. 2006 Mar;48(2):121-32.

Preferential reaching across regions of hemispace in adults and children.

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75 University Avenue West Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5 Canada.


The purpose of the current study was to examine hand selection during reaching in children utilizing a developmental version of the preferential reaching paradigm (Bryden, Pryde, & Roy, 2000). A cross-sectional sample of eighty right-handed participants (ranging in age from 3 to 20 years) were asked to reach to objects located in different regions of hemispace. Each participant was asked to carry out two different actions, varying in degree of complexity, on the objects while the experimenter observed, which hand was used to perform each of the tasks. A repeated-measures ANOVA revealed that reaching towards the midline and ipsilateral positions in hemispace resulted in significantly more preferred hand reaches than reaching towards contralateral hemispace, regardless of age and task. With respect to age group effects, it was found that the 6 and 7 year olds and the 9 and 10 year olds relied heavily on their preferred hand to perform the task, indicating that hand selection in these children was driven primarily by motor dominance. In comparison, the youngest children and adults used their nonpreferred hand more frequently in contralateral space, indicating that object proximity cues or a hemispheric bias was driving hand selection. The implications of these findings for understanding hand preference and skill were discussed in terms of motor dominance versus spatial reasoning theory of hand selection in unimanual reaching.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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