The relative-salience hypothesis has been proposed as a possible explanation for the stability of bimanual coordination. This explanation proceeds from a psychological viewpoint and is based on the following tenets: (1) cyclic joint motions involving two movements are conceived of as a unified event, (2) if a “single” point in each movement is seen as the most salient, the salient points of the two movements prefer to go together, and (3) in other cases, a unified event will be constrained by movement direction. In this investigation, we examined whether the relative-salience hypothesis could predict the type of constraint (i.e., action coupling vs movement direction) for various bimanual coordination movements. Participants performed six different joint movements in synchrony with metronome beats. Both index finger flexion/extension and forearm pronation/supination had a “single” salient point (JMsingleSP), the others had “two” salient points (JMtwoSP). Then, we applied the relative-salience hypothesis to four bimanual coordinations. The coupling of simultaneous forearm pronation was more stable than alternate pronation. Similarly, the coupling of finger flexion and forearm pronation was more stable than that of finger flexion and forearm supination. For the coordination of radial flexion/ulnar flexion and index finger flexion/extension as well as forearm pronation/supination and radial flexion/ulnar flexion, symmetric movements were more stable than asymmetric movements. The results indicated that the stability of bimanual coordination was predominantly constrained by coupling of salient points when using two JMsingleSP and it was predominantly constrained by movement direction when coordinating JMsingleSP and JMtwoSP. Thus, the relative-salience hypothesis was supported.
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