Yves Guiard and bimanual action

Yves Guiard should have held a lecture at McGill last week, but unfortunately could not make it. Reading on his web page and looking up some of the references, I found some interesting comments about bimanual control. He writes:

During the nineteen eighties, I spent a lot of time trying to understand the logic of division of labour between the left and the right hands in human movements. I came to believe there is something deeply misleading to the concept of hand dominance, central to established thinking in the field of human laterality. After all, one needs one’s two hands to play the violin or, to take a less sophisticated example, to deal cards, and so neither hand is minor—the chief fact we have to acknowledge and try to account for is that our hands so often do different things. The human-specific propensity to decompose any manual task into a pair of dissimilar sub-tasks (e.g., manipulating the violin’s strings vs. operating the bow, or preparing the deck vs. dealing the cards) must be recognised as a key feature about human manual laterality. So I proposed a theoretical framework, the kinematic-chain model[…], which at first was received rather tepidly by my peers in the field of experimental psychology. Ten years later, however, this work turned out to have a substantial impact in human-computer interaction (HCI), the field in which computer science and psychology meet. To my great satisfaction, it turned out that this theoretic work was helping engineers design innovative two-handed interfaces.

This led me to think of David Sudnow and the thoughts he presented in Ways of the Hand, where he describes how the two hands are being differently and complement each other.

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Alexander Refsum Jensenius is a music researcher and research musician living in Oslo, Norway.