In everyday life, we frequently have to decide which hand to use for a certain action. It has been suggested that for this decision the brain calculates expected costs based on action values, such as expected biomechanical costs, expected success rate, handedness and skillfulness. While these conclusions were based on experiments in stationary subjects, we often act while the body is in motion. We investigated how hand choice is affected by passive body motion, which directly affects the biomechanical costs of the arm movement due to its inertia. Using a linear motion platform, twelve right-handed subjects were sinusoidally translated (0.625Hz and 0.5Hz). At eight possible motion phases, they had to reach using either their left or right hand to a target presented at one of eleven possible locations. We predicted hand choice by calculating the expected biomechanical costs under different assumptions about the future acceleration involved in these computations, being the forthcoming acceleration during the reach, the instantaneous acceleration at target onset or zero acceleration as if the body is stationary. While hand choice was generally biased to using the dominant hand, it also modulated sinusoidally with the motion, with the amplitude of the bias depending on the motion's peak acceleration. The phase of hand choice modulation was consistent with the cost model that took the instantaneous acceleration signal at target onset. This suggest that the brain relies on the bottom-up acceleration signals, and not on predictions about future accelerations, when deciding on hand choice during passive whole-body motion.
- hand choice
- biomechanical cost
- decision making
- vestibular system
- Copyright © 2017, Journal of Neurophysiology