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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.

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Bouwien C. M. Smits-Engelsman, Stephan P. Swinnen, and Jacques Duysens

It has been shown that crossing the midline affects the performance of fine motor skills but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. This issue is particularly important with respect to the development of motor activities such as writing or pointing in children. Forty-eight right-handed children performed goal-directed movements toward targets positioned either at the midline, or in the left (contralateral side), or right (ipsilateral) hemispace. Findings revealed that movements were more accurate in ipsilateral than in contralateral space and their overall accuracy increased by 42% between 6 and 10 years of age. Differences in movement time among hemispaces depended on the joints predominantly involved in producing the movements (wrist versus fingers). Lower accuracy of movements in contralateral workspace is also present when participants do not have to cross the midline but only move within this workspace. In motor proficient children, no developmental trends were found for these hemispace effects.

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Veerle Puttemans, Sophie Vangheluwe, Nicole Wenderoth, and Stephan P. Swinnen

When performing movements with different spatial trajectories in both upper limbs simultaneously, patterns of interference emerge that can be overcome with practice. Even though studies on the role of augmented feedback in motor learning have been abundant, it still remains to be discovered how overcoming such specific patterns of spatial interference can be optimized by instructional intervention. In the present study, one group acquired a bimanual movement with normal vision, whereas a second group received augmented feedback of the obtained trajectories on a computer screen in real time. Findings revealed that, relative to normal vision, the augmented feedback hampered skill learning and transfer to different environmental conditions. These observations are discussed in view of the benefits and pitfalls of augmented feedback in relation to task context and instructional condition.