Reaching to ipsilateral or contralateral targets: within-hemisphere visuomotor processing cannot explain hemispatial differences in motor control

Exp Brain Res. 1996 Dec;112(3):496-504. doi: 10.1007/BF00227955.


Aiming movements made to visual targets on the same side of the body as the reaching hand typically show advantages as compared to aiming movements made to targets on the opposite side of the body midline in the contralateral visual field. These advantages for ipsilateral reaches include shorter reaction time, higher peak velocity, shorter duration and greater endpoint accuracy. It is commonly hypothesized that such advantages are related to the efficiency of intrahemispheric processing, since, for example, a left-sided target would be initially processed in the visual cortex of the right hemisphere and that same hemisphere controls the motor output to the left hand. We tested this hypothesis by examining the kinematics of aiming movements made by 26 right-handed subjects to visual targets briefly presented in either the left or the right visual field. In one block of trials, the subjects aimed their finger directly towards the target; in the other block, subjects were required to aim their movement to the mirror symmetrical position on the opposite side of the fixation light from the target. For the three kinematic measures in which hemispatial differences were obtained (peak velocity, duration and percentage of movement time spent in deceleration), the advantages were related to the side to which the motor response was directed and not to the side where the target was presented. In addition, these effects tended to be larger in the right hand than in the left, particularly for the percentage of the movement time spent in deceleration. The results are interpreted in terms of models of biomechanical constraints on contralateral movements, which are independent of the hemispace of target presentation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation