Bilateral interference, referring to the tendency of movements of one arm to disrupt the intended movements made simultaneously with the other arm, is often observed in a task that involves differential planning of each arm movement during sensorimotor adaptation. In the present study, we examined two questions: 1) how does the compatibility between visuomotor adaptation tasks performed with both arms affect bilateral interference during bimanual performance? and 2) how do variations in bilateral interference affect transfer of visuomotor adaptation between bilateral and unilateral conditions? To examine these questions, we manipulated visuomotor compatibility using two kinematic variables (direction of required hand motion, direction of an imposed visual rotation). Experiment 1 consisted of two conditions in which the direction of visual rotations for both arms was either in the same or opposing directions, whereas the target direction for both arms was always the same. In experiment 2, we examined the pattern of generalization between the bilateral and unilateral conditions when both the target and rotation directions were opposing between the arms. In both experiments, subjects first adapted to a 30° visual rotation with one arm (preunilateral), then with both arms (bilateral), and finally with the arm that was not used in the first session (postunilateral). Our results show that bilateral interference was smallest when both variables were the same between the arms. Our data also show extensive transfer of visuomotor adaptation between bilateral and unilateral conditions, regardless of degree of bilateral interference.
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