View Full Version : Summary of Handedness replies

Robert L. Sainburg, Ph.d.
06-02-1998, 12:37 AM
Dear Subscribers,

Thanks to all who responded to my request for information. You have been
extremely helpful. Below is a summarized compilation of your responses.

Original Request:

I would like to find information re: movement accuracy using dominant
compared with non-dominant limbs in humans or animals.



Marian Annett has done studies of asymmetry of human hand skill in a
peg-moving task, using - as I recall - Fitts Index of Difficulty as a guide.
She has many papers (mostly on related but not exactly on that topic), which
you could find by a Social Science Journals database search.

James Steele, Ph.D


A good place to
start would be with Mel Goodale and Haaland. Also Carolee Winstein has
published some interesting data on handedness using the ipsilateral arm
in stroke patients. If you need more specific references, I can provide
Mindy Levin, Ph.D., PT


In my experience Medline is not much of a Motor Control (or
multi-disciplinary) database, and here I would supplement with PsycLIT.
Maybe these two
are of interest:

TI: Finger-movement tracking scores in healthy subjects.
AU: Carey,-James-R.; Bogard,-Connie-L.; King,-Bradley-A.; Suman,-Vera-J.
IN: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, US
PY: 1994

TI: Parental handedness and relative hand skill: A test of the
developmental instability hypothesis.
AU: Gangestad,-Steven-W.; Yeo,-Ronald-A.
IN: U New Mexico, Dept of Psychology, Albuquerque, US
JN: Neuropsychology; 1994 Oct Vol 8(4) 572-578
PY: 1994

__________________________________________________ ___________
Rolf Moe-Nilssen, MS, PT


Right handers show greater between hand differences than left handers for
throwing accuracy (Peters & Servos, Can. J. Psychol. 43: 341-358, 1989).
Similarly, when tests of hand skill are assessed, such as hand writing,
finger tapping speed and pegboard tasks, there are large differences in
skill between dominant and non-dominant hands in right handers, but not in
left handers (Peters, Neuropsychologia, 28: 279-289, 1990; Provins &
Magliaro, Brain Cogn., 22: 171-181, 1993).

In some instances, the preferred hand does not always produce the best
performance. For example, Kimura & Vanderwolf (Brain, 93: 769-774, 1970)
have found that during isolated flexion of a single sequence of digits, the
task was performed better with the non-dominant hand in right handers.
Also, Carey et al. (Percept. Mot. Skills, 79: 563-576, 1994) have shown
that subjects are more accurate at an index finger tracking task with their
non-dominant hand compared to the dominant hand. However, in "practiced"
skilled tasks such as handwriting, significant performance advantages are
observed with the dominant hand in right handers (Provins & Magliaro, Brain
Cogn., 22: 171-181, 1993).

John G. Semmler, Ph.D.


We have published some data on pointing movements with the right and left
hands by normal subjects and individuals with brain lesions (e.g., Rizzo
and Darling 1997, Neuropsychologia 35:53-63, Rizzo et al. 1992,
Neuropsychologia, 30:711-722). We generally find very little difference in
endpoint variability or movement duration in simple pointing tasks or
sensorimotor transformations for pointing by normals or patients with
occipital lobe lesions (i.e., blind pointing to a remembered target


Warren Darling, Ph.D.


There was a recent review article by K.A. Provins titled, "The specificity
of motor skill and manual asymmetry: A review of the evidence and its
implications," in the Journal of Motor Behavior, Vol. 29(2) 183-192, June,

We recently collected data on 14 right-handed subjects' performance for
accuracy of limb positioning between their preferred (right) and
non-preferred (left) hands. The results showed significantly better
accuracy (p < 0.001) for the left hand than the preferred hand. The only
reasons we had to explain this were: 1) the right hemisphere of the brain
(which controls the left hand) had better spatial accuracy due to greater
specialization for those tasks; or 2) the low number of subjects resulted
in a sampling error in which the subjects were in the tail of the
population which had better manual skills in their non-preferred hand.
Several of the studies in Provins' review were based on an N of 1, so you
must consider not only the results, but the weight of importance. The
right-handed subjects in our study self-reported their handedness by
preference for writing and throwing. As Provins pointed out, these probably
have a low correlation with other tasks.

Bruce Etnyre, Ph.D., P.T.

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Overarm throws with the nondominant arm: kinematics of accuracy.
Journal of Neurophysiology. December 1996 p. 3693-3704

Movement time, movement distance, and movement accuracy: a reply.
to Newell, Carlton and Kim
Human Performance. Volume 7 Number 1 1994 p. 23-28

Time and space movement accuracy.
Human Performance. Volume 7 Number 1 1994 p. 1-21

On the accuracy of movement in space time.
Human Performance. Volume 7 Number 1 1994 p. 29-36

Speed and accuracy of aimed hand movements in left handed human
subjects: sex related differences in motor control.
International Journal of Neuroscience. October 1993 p. 235-243

The contribution of vision to asymmetries in manual aiming.
Neuropsychologia. Volume 28 Number 11 1990 p. 1215-1220

Speed and accuracy effects of fingers and dexterity in 5-choice
reaction tasks.
Ergonomics. December 1990 p. 1443-1454

The effects of movement distance and movement time on visual
feedback processing in aimed hand movements.
Acta Psychologica. July 1987 p. 181-191

Target location and visual feedback as variables determining
accuracy of aiming movements.
Perceptual and Motor Skills. April 1983 p. 355-358

Experimental study of effects on speed and accuracy of teaching
alternate hand method on a ten key electronic calculator.
Perceptual and Motor Skills. June 1981 p. 695-700

Individual differences in lateralization: effects of gender and
Neuropsychology October 1997 p. 562-576

Effects of tendon vibration on unimanual and bimanual movement
Experimental Neurology August 1986 p. 311-319

Variations in cerebral organization as a function of handedness,
hand posture in writing, and sex.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. June 1978 p.119-144

Accuracy of predicting reaction and movement times of a gross motor
performance from the dominant hand under simple and choice
stimulus conditions. Perceptual & Motor Skills. December 1971 p. 1326

David Dillard

************************************************** ***

An excellent resource is
Manual Asymmetries in Motor Performance (1996) new text- Elliott
et al. by CRC Press, Boca Raton. Also call-up work by Michael Peters
(several references) mpeters@uoguelph.ca
Our work deals with attentional stimuli and limb selection
(handedness), so I can't be of direct help.

Carl Gabbard

************************************************** ***

In 1995 I attended a conference at Otago University at which a paper
"The Possible Peripheral Mechanisms of Handednesss in Fast
Movements" was presented by B.J.Gutnik of the Department of
Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Otago.

Doug McClymont

************************************************** ***

Not sure what you mean by simply names... "authors perhaps"

R.G. Carson, D. Elliott, R. Chua, M.A. Goodale

should yield a wealth of manual aiming studies that have examined the
expression of handedness.


Dr Winston Byblow, Lecturer

************************************************** ***

Peters, M. (1994). Does handedness play a role in the coordination of bimanual
movements? In Swinnen, S., Heuer, H., Massion, J., & Casaer, P. (Eds).
Interlimb coordination.: Neural, dynamical, and cognitive constraints.
Academic Press. San


Andrea Utley

************************************************** ***

carollee winstein and carol guiliani
presented work a number of years ago now at the annual neuroscience meeting
that looked at the fitt's tapping task in 2D. they were specifically
interested in CVA subjects but they did have to use healthy controls


Clare bassile, EdD.

************************************************** ***


1. Anonymous Interlimb Coordination: Neural, Dynamical, and Cognitive
Constraints, San Diego:Academic Press, Inc. 1994.pp. 1-637.

2. Berlucchi, G., Aglioti, S., and Tassinari, G. The role of the corpus
callosum and bilaterally distributed motor pathways in the synchronization
of bilateral upper-limb responses to lateralized light stimuli. In:
Interlimb Coordination: Neural, Dynamical, and Cognitive Constraints,
edited by Swinnen, S.P., Massion, J., Heuer, H., and Casaer, P.San
Diego:Academic Press, Inc. 1994,p. 210-227.

3. McNamara, P., Flannery, K.A., Obler, L.K., and Schachter, S. Special
talents in Geschwind's and Galaburda's theory of cerebral lateralization:
An examination in a female population. Intern.J.Neurosci. 78(3/4):167-176,

4. Peters, M. Does handedness play a role in the coordination of bimanual
movement? In: Interlimb Coordination: Neural, Dynamical, and Cognitive
Constraints, edited by Swinnen, S.P., Massion, J., Heuer, H., and Casaer,
P.San Diego:Academic Press, Inc. 1994,p. 595-615.

5. Westergaard, G.C. and Suomi, S.J. The use of probing tools by Tufted
Capuchins (Cebus apella): Evidence for increased right-hand preference with
age. Int.J.Primatol. 15(4):521-529, 1994.

6. Barn‚oud, P. and Van der Loos, H. Direction of handedness linked to
hereditary asymmetry of a sensory system. Proc.Nat'l.Acad.Sci.
90(8):3246-3250, 1993.

7. Bradshaw, J.L. and Rogers, L.J. The Evolution of Lateral Asymmetries,
Language, Tool Use, and Intellect, San Diego:Academic Press, 1993.pp.

8. Hellige, J.B. Hemispheric Asymmetry: What's Right and What's Left,
Cambridge, MA:Harvard University Press, 1993.pp. 1-396.

9. Hopkins, W.D., Bennett, A.J., Bales, S.L., Lee, J., and Ward, J.P.
Behavioral laterality in captive Bonobos (Pan paniscus). J.Comp.Psych.
107(4):403-410, 1993.

10. Kim, S., Ashe, J., Hendrich, K., Ellermann, J.M., Merkle, H.,
Ug˛ķurbil, K., and Georgopoulos, A.P. Functional magnetic resonance imaging
of motor cortex: Hemispheric asymmetry and handedness. Science 261:615-617,

11. Parsons, C.H. and Rogers, L.J. Role of the tectal and posterior
commissures in lateralization of the avian brain. Behav.Brain Res.
54(2):153-164, 1993.

12. Rogers, L.J. and Workman, L. Footedness in birds. Anim.Behav.
45(2):409-411, 1993.

13. Roney, L.S. and King, J.E. Postural effects on manual reaching
laterality in Squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) and Cotton-top Tamarins
(Saguinus oedipus). J.Comp.Psych. 107(4):380-385, 1993.

14. Seltzer, C., Forsythe, C., and Wand, J.P. Multiple measures of motor
lateralization in human primates (Homo sapiens). J.Comp.Psych.
104(2):159-166, 1990.

15. Tan, š., Yaprak, M., and Kutzu, N. Paw preference in cats:
Distribution and sex differences. Intern.J.Neurosci. 50(3/4):195-208, 1990.

16. ten Cate, C., Baauw, A., Ballintijn, M., Majoor, B., and van der Horst,
I. Lateralization of orientation in sexually active Zebra finches: Eye use
asymmetry or locomotor bias? Anim.Behav. 39(5):992-994, 1990.

17. Nativ, A., Frank, J., and Alard, F. The effect of handedness on spinal
and supra-spinal reflex excitability. Electroenceph.clin.Neurophysiol.
72(2):157-164, 1989.

18. DiDomenico, R., Nissanov, J., and Eaton, R.C. Lateralization and
adaptation of a continuously variable behavior following lesions of a
reticulospinal command neuron. Brain.Res. 473(1):15-28, 1988.

19. Kooistra, C.A. and Heilman, K.M. Motor dominance and lateral asymmetry
of the globus pallidus. Neurology 38:388-390, 1988.

20. Deuel, N.R. and Lawrence, L.M. Laterality in the gallop gait of horses.
J.Biomech. 20(6):645-649, 1987.

21. Sanford, C., Guin, K., and Ward, J.P. Posture and laterality in the
Bushbaby (Galago senegalensis). Brain Behav.Evol. 25(4):217-224, 1984.


Martha Hyde

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Robert L. Sainburg Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Director, Motor Control Laboratory
90 Farber Hall
3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214-3079
Voice 716-829-2093 Fax 716-829-3217

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