Coping with systematic bias during bilateral movement

Charles B. Walter*, Stephan P. Swinnen, Daniel M. Corcos, Elisana Pollatou, Hong Yan Pan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The present studies examined the nature of kinematic interlimb interference during bilateral elbow movements of 1:1, 2:1 and 3:1 frequency ratios and the manner in which subjects cope with coordination bias. Analysis of movement trajectories in the first experiment indicated progressively greater angular velocity assimilation across 2:1 and 3:1 conditions. The desired temporal relationship was maintained by slowing or pausing the low-frequency movement at peak extension while the high-frequency arm produced intervening cycles. An increase in amplitude was also evident for concurrent, homologous cycles. Movement smoothness was emphasized and additional practice was provided in a second experiment. This resulted in dissociated peak angular velocity between limbs and eliminated hesitations and amplitude effects. Bias was still evident, however, as an intermittent approach toward a 1:1 ratio within each cycle. This systematic tendency was somewhat greater at the lower of two absolute frequency combinations but was not influenced by the role of each arm in producing the higher or lower frequency movement. The findings from the first experiment suggest that subjects initially accommodate interlimb kinematic assimilation, while producing the intended timing ratio, by intermittently slowing or pausing the lower-frequency movement. This attenuates the need for bilaterally-disparate movement parameters and provides additional time for organizing residual kinematic differences, perhaps reducing "transient coupling." Evidence from the second experiment indicates that subtle relative motion preferences are still evident following sufficient practice to perform the movements smoothly. The within-cycle locations of the points of greatest interlimb bias for the 2:1 rhythms were positively displaced from those previously observed for 1:1 oscillations. The persistent coordination tendencies noted in both experiments perhaps reflect an assimilation/compensation cycle and constitute one potential source of the systematic error that often emerges during the acquisition of complex skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-213
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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