The role of interhemispheric communication during complete and partial cancellation of bimanual responses

Hayley MacDonald, Chotica Laksanaphuk, Alice Day, Winston Byblow, Ned Jenkinson

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Precise control of upper limb movements in response to external stimuli is vital to effectively interact with the environment. Accurate execution of bimanual movement is known to rely on finely orchestrated interhemispheric communication between the primary motor cortices (M1s). However, relatively little is known about the role of interhemispheric communication during sudden cancellation of prepared bimanual movement. The current study investigated the role of interhemispheric interactions during complete and partial cancellation of bimanual movement. In two experiments, healthy young human participants received transcranial magnetic stimulation to both M1s during a bimanual response inhibition task. The increased corticomotor excitability in anticipation of bimanual movement was accompanied by a release of inhibition from both M1s. After a stop cue, inhibition was re-engaged onto both hemispheres to successfully cancel the complete bimanual response. However, when the stop cue signalled partial cancellation (stopping of one digit only), inhibition was re-engaged with regard to the cancelled digit, but the responding digit representation was facilitated. This bifurcation in interhemispheric communication between M1s occurred 75 ms later in the more difficult condition when the non-dominant, as opposed to dominant, hand was still responding. Our results demonstrate that interhemispheric communication is integral to response inhibition once a bimanual response has been prepared. Interestingly, M1-M1 interhemispheric circuitry does not appear to be responsible for the non-selective suppression of all movement components that has been observed during partial cancellation. Instead such interhemispheric communication enables uncoupling of bimanual response components and facilitates the selective initiation of just the required unimanual movement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-44
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number00
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2021


  • bimanual coordination
  • interhemispheric inhibition
  • response inhibition
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation


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