Spatial interference during bimanual coordination: differential brain networks associated with control of movement amplitude and direction

Nicole Wenderoth, Filiep Debaere, Stefan Sunaert, Stephan P Swinnen
Human Brain Mapping 2005, 26 (4): 286-300
Bimanual interference emerges when spatial features, such as movement direction or amplitude, differ between limbs, as indicated by a mutual bias of limb trajectories. Although first insights into the neural basis of directional interference have been revealed recently, little is known about the neural network associated with amplitude interference. We investigated whether amplitude versus directional interference activates differential networks. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was applied while subjects performed cyclical, bimanual joystick movements with either the same vs. different amplitudes, directions, or both. The kinematic analysis confirmed that subjects experienced amplitude interference when they moved with different as compared to the same amplitude, and directional interference when they moved along different as compared to the same direction. On the brain level, amplitude and directional interference both resulted in activation of a bilateral superior parietal-premotor network, which is known to contribute to sensorimotor transformations during goal-directed movements. Interestingly, amplitude but not directional interference exclusively activated a bilateral network containing the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, and supramarginal gyrus, which was shown previously to contribute to executive functions. Even though the encoding of amplitude and directional information converged and activated the same neural substrate, our data thus show that additional and partly independent mechanisms are involved in bimanual amplitude as compared to that in directional control.

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