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Hedwig Bogaerts and Stephan P. Swinnen

Whereas previous bimanual coordination research has predominantly focused on the constraining role of timing, the present study addressed the role of spatial (i.e., directional) constraints during the simultaneous production of equilateral triangles with both upper limbs. In addition to coordination modes in which mirror-image and isodirectional movements were performed (compatible patterns), new modes were tested in which the left limb lagged with respect to the right by one triangle side (non-compatible patterns). This resulted in the experimental manipulation of directional compatibility between the limbs. In addition. triangles with either horizontal or vertical orientations were to be drawn in order to assess the role of static images on movement production. Results supported the important role of directional constraints in bimanual coordination. Furthermore, triangles in vertical orientations (with a vertical symmetry axis, i.e., one apex pointing up) were drawn more successfully than those in horizontal orientations (with a horizontal symmetry axis, i.e., one apex pointing left or right), suggesting that the static aspects of a geometric form may affect movement dynamics. Finally, evidence suggested that cognitive processes related to integration of the submovements into a unified plan mediate the performance of new coordination patterns. The implications of the present findings for clinical populations are discussed.