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Interference is frequently observed during bimanual movements if the two hands perform nonsymmetric actions. We examined the source of bimanual interference in two experiments in which we compared conditions involving symmetric movements with conditions in which the movements were of different amplitudes or different directions. The target movements were cued either symbolically by letters or directly by the onset of the target locations. With symbolic cues, reaction times were longer when the movements of the two hands were not symmetric. With direct cues, reaction times were the same for symmetric and nonsymmetric movements. These results indicate that directly cued actions can be programmed in parallel for the two hands. Our results challenge the hypothesis that the cost to initiate nonsymmetric movements is due to spatial intetference in a motor-programming stage. Rather the cost appears to be caused by stimulus identification, response-selection processes connected to the processing of symbolic cues, or both.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Sci

Publication Date





493 - 498


Adolescent, Adult, Attention, Cues, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Kinesthesis, Male, Orientation, Psychomotor Performance, Psychophysics, Symbolism