Bimanual joint action: correlated timing or “bimanual” movements accomplished by two people

Melanie Y. Lam, Jarrod Blinch, Elizabeth M. Connors, Jon B. Doan, Claudia L.R. Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A crew of two rowing together in perfect synchrony is an example of a task that requires each performer to maintain meticulous timing when coordinating their movements with the other. At the individual level, temporal coordination of the limbs has been observed in bimanual pointing movements even when made to targets of different distance. Timing of the arms is not independent; rather there is a natural temporal coupling. The aim of this experiment was to investigate whether the temporal characteristics of pointing movements can be observed under joint conditions. Sixteen pairs of participants made short and long, unimanual and bimanual pointing movements. In the unimanual and bimanual solo conditions, participants made the movements alone. In the joint condition, each participant contributed one arm to the joint “bimanual” movements. Absolute temporal coupling at movement initiation and termination was measured by the differences in reaction time and total response time. Relative temporal coupling at movement initiation and termination was measured by correlating reaction time and total response time of the left and right limbs. Pointing movements had synchronous movement termination in the bimanual solo conditions and asynchronous termination in the unimanual solo and bimanual joint conditions. The initiation and termination of the arms were not correlated in the unimanual solo condition (initiation r = 0.01, termination r = 0.03). Small-to-medium correlations (r = 0.19, r = 0.24) were observed in the bimanual joint condition, and they were larger than the unimanual solo condition (p = 0.022, p = 0.063). As expected, there were large correlations in the bimanual solo conditions (r = 0.91, r = 0.81). Our findings suggest that absolute temporal coupling does not occur between individuals, but there is evidence for relative temporal coupling in the bimanual joint condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2363-2375
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental brain research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018



  • Bimanual coordination
  • Joint action
  • Temporal coupling

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