Cognitive-perceptual load modulates hand selection in left-handers to a greater extent than in right-handers

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Previous studies have proposed that selecting which hand to use for a reaching task appears to be modulated by a factor described as “task difficulty,” defined by either the requirement for spatial precision or movement sequences. However, we previously reported that analysis of the movement costs associated with even simple movements plays a major role in hand selection. We further demonstrated, in right-handers, that cognitive-perceptual loading modulates hand selection by interfering with the analysis of such costs. It has been reported that left-handers tend to show less dominant hand bias in selecting which hand to use during reaching. We, therefore, hypothesized that hand selection would be less affected by cognitive-perceptual loading in left-handers than in right-handers. We employed a visual search task that presented different levels of difficulty (cognitive-perceptual load), as established in previous studies. Our findings indicate that left-handed participants tend to show greater modulation of hand selection by cognitive-perceptual loading than right-handers. Left-handers showed lower dominant hand reaction times than right-handers, and greater high-cost movements that reached to extremes of the contralateral workspace under the most difficult task conditions. We previously showed in this task that midline crossing has high-energy and time costs and that they occur more frequently under cognitively demanding conditions. The current study revealed that midline crossing was associated with the lowest reaction times, in both handedness groups. The fact that left-handers showed lower dominant hand reaction times, and a greater number of high-cost cross-midline reaches under the most cognitively demanding conditions suggests that these actions were erroneous.




Liang, J., Wilkinson, K. M., & Sainburg, R. L. (2019). Cognitive-perceptual load modulates hand selection in left-handers to a greater extent than in right-handers. Experimental Brain Research, 237(2), 389–399.

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