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Right or left? Brain stimulation can change which hand you favor
Date:9/27/2010

"Alien hand syndrome," a neurological disorder in which victims report the involuntary use of their hands, inspired researchers to investigate whether the brain initiates several action plans, setting in motion a competitive process before arriving at a decision.

While the study does not offer an explanation for why there is a competition involved in this type of decision making, researchers say it makes sense that we adjust which hand we use based on changing situations. "In the middle of the decision process, things can change, so we need to change track," Oliveira said.

In TMS, magnetic pulses alter electrical activity in the brain, disrupting the neurons in the underlying brain tissue. While the current findings are limited to hand choice, TMS could, in theory, influence other decisions, such as whether to choose an apple or an orange, or even which movie to see, Ivry said.

With sensors on their fingertips, the study's participants were instructed to reach for various targets on a virtual tabletop while a 3-D motion-tracking system followed the movements of their hands. When the left posterior parietal cortex was stimulated, and the target was located in a spot where they could use either hand, there was a significant increase of the use of the left hand, Oliveira said.


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Contact: Yasmin Anwar
yanwar@berkeley.edu
510-643-7944
University of California -- Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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