Fooling the brain into thinking it sees both hands moving enhances bimanual spatial coupling

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Abstract

This study examined the hypothesis that the mirror reflection of one hand's movement directly influences motor output of the other (hidden) hand, during performance of bimanual drawing. A mirror was placed between the two hands during bimanual circle drawing, with one hand and its reflection visible and the other hand hidden. Bimanual spatial coupling was enhanced by the mirror reflection, as shown by measures of circle size. Effects of the mirror reflection differed significantly from effects of vision to one hand alone, but did not differ from a control task performed in full vision. There was no evidence of a consistent phase lead of the visible hand, which indicates that the observed effects on spatial coupling were immediate and not based on time-consuming feedback processes. We argue that visual mirror symmetry fools the brain into believing it sees both hands moving rather than one. Consequently, the spatial properties of movement of the two hands become more similar through a process that is virtually automatic.

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