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Changes of hand switching costs during bimanual sequential learning

MPS-Authors
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Trapp,  Sabrina
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Lepsien,  Joeran
Methods and Development Unit Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Sehm,  Bernhard
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Division of Mind and Brain Research, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany;

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Ragert,  Patrick
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Fulltext (public)

Trapp_2012_Changes.pdf
(Publisher version), 196KB

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Citation

Trapp, S., Lepsien, J., Sehm, B., Villringer, A., & Ragert, P. (2012). Changes of hand switching costs during bimanual sequential learning. PLoS One, 7(9): e45857. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045857.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-15B3-C
Abstract
Many tasks in our daily life demand not only the use of different fingers of one hand in a serial fashion, but also to alternate from one hand to the other. Here, we investigated performance in a bimanual serial reaction time task (SRTT) with particular emphasis on learning-related changes in reaction time (RT) for consecutive button presses for homologous index- and middle fingers. The bimanual SRTT consisted of sequential button presses either with the left or right index- and middle-finger to a series of visual letters displayed on a computer screen. Each letter was assigned a specific button press with one of four fingers. Two outcome measures were investigated: (a) global sequence learning as defined by the time needed to complete a 15-letter SRTT sequence and (b) changes in hand switch costs across learning. We found that bimanual SRTT resulted in a global decrease in RT during the time course of learning that persisted for at least two weeks. Furthermore, RT to a button press showed an increase when the previous button press was associated with another hand as opposed to the same hand. This increase in RT was defined as switch costs. Hand switch costs significantly decreased during the time course of learning, and remained stable over a time of approximately two weeks. This study provides evidence for modulations of switch costs during bimanual sequence learning, a finding that might have important implications for theories of bimanual coordination and learning.