Hemispheric asymmetries for kinematic and positional aspects of reaching. Academic Article uri icon


  • Kinematic analyses of reaching have suggested that the left hemisphere is dominant for controlling the open loop component of the movement, which is more dependent on motor programmes; and the right hemisphere is dominant for controlling the closed loop component, which is more dependent on sensory feedback. This open and closed loop hypothesis of hemispheric asymmetry would also predict that advance planning should be dependent on the left hemisphere, and on-line response modification, which defines closed loop processes, should be dependent on the right hemisphere. Using kinematic analyses of reaching in patients with left or right hemisphere damage (LHD or RHD), we examined the ability: (i) to plan reaching movements in advance by examining changes in reaction time (RT) when response amplitude and visual feedback were cued prior to the response; and (ii) to modify the response during implementation when target location changed at the RT. Performance was compared between the stroke groups, using the ipsilesional arm, and age-matched control groups using their right (RNC) or left (LNC) arm. Aiming movements to a target that moved once or twice, with the second step occurring at the RT, were performed with or without visual feedback of hand position. There were no deficits in advance planning in either stroke group, as evidenced by comparable group changes in RT with changes in amplitude and visual feedback. Response modification deficits were seen for the LHD group in secondary velocity only. In addition, LHD produced slower initial peak velocity with prolongation of the deceleration phase and faster secondary peak velocities, and the RHD group produced deficits in final error only. These differences are more consistent with the dynamic dominance hypothesis, which links left hemisphere specialization to movement trajectory control and right hemisphere specialization to position control, rather than to global deficits in open and closed loop processing.

publication date

  • May 2004