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Neuropsychologia. 1991;29(9):889-905.

Interhemispheric differences in the planning and execution of sequences of skilled finger movements.

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Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratories, Julia Farr Centre, Adelaide, Australia.


An index-middle finger (double) tapping task was used to examine hemispheric differences in the planning and execution of skilled finger movements. In two experiments, subjects responded to a simple cue presented tachistoscopically in the left or right visual field, by performing a predetermined number of double taps, (between one and eight inclusive), with either the left or right hand. Reaction times (RT) increased linearly as a function of increasing number of taps, when response sequences were controlled by the left hemisphere. In contrast, an inverse quadratic trend was obtained with right hemisphere control. When both hemispheres were involved in the stimulus-response sequence, the latency function incorporated elements of both trends, suggesting interaction between the hemispheres. The RT trends reflect differences in motor planning between the hemispheres. The conditions engaging only the right or left hemispheres did not differ in motor execution, as measured by tapping duration, variability or errors. However, when both hemispheres were involved there was evidence of interaction, which was evident as interference when the right visual field or left hemisphere was cued but the motor response was under the control of the right hemisphere (left hand). Overall, the results indicate that hand differences in fine motor skill may be determined by hemispheric differences associated with motor preparation rather than response execution.

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