Chord skill: learning optimized hand postures and bimanual coordination

Willem B. Verwey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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This reaction time study tested the hypothesis that in the case of finger movements skilled motor control involves the execution of learned hand postures. After delineating hypothetical control mechanisms and their predictions an experiment is described involving 32 participants who practiced 6 chord responses. These responses involved the simultaneous depression of one, two or three keys with either four right-hand fingers or two fingers of both hands. After practicing each of these responses for 240 trials, the participants performed the practiced and also novel chords with the familiar and with the unfamiliar hand configuration of the other practice group. The results suggest that participants learned hand postures rather than spatial or explicit chord representations. Participants practicing with both hands also developed a bimanual coordination skill. Chord execution was most likely slowed by interference between adjacent fingers. This interference seemed eliminated with practice for some chords but not for others. Hence, the results support the notion that skilled control of finger movements is based on learned hand postures that even after practice may be slowed by interference between adjacent fingers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1643-1659
Number of pages17
JournalExperimental brain research
Early online date14 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Chording
  • Information processing
  • Interference between fingers
  • Motor learning
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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