Breaking the Reflectional Symmetry of Interlimb Coordination Dynamics

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31 Scopus citations


Interlimb rhythmic coordination is reflectionally symmetric when the left and right limb segments are identical in uncoupled frequencies and spatial orientation. In the present studies (4 experiments, with a total of 31 participants), when reflectional symmetry was broken through differences in timing (frequency), the resulting stable states were related by reflection and were identical for paired identically oriented limb segments behaving either as inverted or as ordinary pendulums. When reflectional symmetry was broken both temporally and spatially (coordinating inverted and ordinary pendular motions), the resulting stable states were different from those produced by identically oriented pendulums but nevertheless were related by reflection. In the Discussion, the authors focus on (a) symmetry breaking as leading to one of a number of symmetrically related states and (b) extending coordination dynamics with reflectional symmetry so that temporal and spatial asymmetries can both be accommodated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-216
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of motor behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Dynamics
  • Group theory
  • Interlimb coordination
  • Inverted pendulum
  • Symmetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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