Our study examined the effects of performing a pointing movement with the left hand on the kinematics of a simultaneous grasping movement executed with the right hand. We were especially interested in the question of whether both movements can be controlled independently or whether interference effects occur. Since previous studies suggested that eye movements may play a crucial role in bimanual movement control, the effects of different fixation strategies were also studied. Human participants were either free to move their eyes (Experiment 1) or they had to fixate (Experiment 2) while doing the task. The results show that bimanual movement control differed fundamentally depending on the fixation condition: if free viewing was allowed, participants tended to perform the task sequentially, as reflected in grasping kinematics by a delayed grip opening and a poor adaptation of the grip to the object properties for the duration of the pointing movement. This behavior was accompanied by a serial fixation of the targets for the pointing and grasping movements. In contrast, when central fixation was required, both movements were performed fast and with no obvious interference effects. The results support the notion that bimanual movement control is moderated by fixation strategies. By default, participants seem to prefer a sequential behavior in which the eyes monitor what the hands are doing. However, when forced to fixate, they do surprisingly well in performing both movements in parallel.
- eye movements
- motor control