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On the task-dependency and flexibility of bimanual coordination

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How does the brain coordinate movements across the two hands? Much of previous research has highlighted invariant constraints of bimanual coordination, such as the tendency to move the hands in synchrony and mirror-symmetry. These constraints can be readily observed when trying to rub the belly with one hand, while padding the head with the other hand. However, such work belies the fact that bimanual coordination is a highly flexible and task-dependent process. Here I take a functional approach to study how the hands are coordinated such that they can achieve real-world tasks. First, I will discuss the role of inter-hemispheric communication through the corpus callosum for bimanual coordination. I will show the fast adaptation of coordination during bimanual object manipulation and the role of the cerebellum in this process. Finally, I will use optimal control theory to make quantitative predictions about how feedback control and feedforward adaptation to force perturbation will change with changing goals of bimanual tasks.

This talk is part of the Craik Club series.

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