Are unimanual movements bilateral?

Sabrina Chettouf, Laura M. Rueda-Delgado, Ralph de Vries, Petra Ritter, Andreas Daffertshofer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Motor control is a fundamental challenge for the central nervous system. In this review, we show that unimanual movements involve bi-hemispheric activation patterns that resemble the bilateral neural activation typically observed for bimanual movements. For unimanual movements, the activation patterns in the ipsilateral hemisphere arguably entail processes that serve to suppress interhemispheric cross-talk through transcallosal tracts. Improper suppression may cause involuntary muscle co-activation and as such it comes as no surprise that these processes depend on the motor task. Identifying the detailed contributions of local and global excitatory and inhibitory cortical processes to this suppression calls for integrating findings from various behavioral paradigms and imaging modalities. Doing so systematically highlights that lateralized activity in left (pre)motor cortex modulates with task complexity, independently of the type of task and the end-effector involved. Despite this lateralization, however, our review supports the idea of bi-hemispheric cortical activation being a fundamental mode of upper extremity motor control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Early online date3 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Bilateral activation
  • Corpus callosum
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Interhemispheric
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Motor coordination
  • Motor cortex
  • Structural MRI
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Unimanual


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