Test-retest stability of an experimental measure of human turning behaviour in right-handers, mixed-handers, and left-handers

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Animals turn away from the hemisphere with the more active dopamine (DA) system. For humans, a similar relationship has been assumed, albeit that side preferences obtained from different measures are inconsistent. Given the important role of DA on human behaviour and cognition, a stable human turning measure is of significant experimental value. We assessed the stability (test and retest 4 weeks apart) of veering behaviour (lateral deviations during blindfolded straight ahead walking) in 20 healthy right-handers, 20 mixed-handers, and 20 left-handers. Veering behaviour did not differ between groups, and did not reveal any particular side preference in any group. Relationships of side preferences between testing sessions for the different handedness groups was low for right-handers, and showed some minor consistency for the mixed-handed group. Neither handedness nor footedness was significantly related to preferred veering side. These findings, if not related meaningfully to DA-mediated conditions (e.g., clinical populations, pharmacological studies, personality) in the future, suggests that veering behaviour is an inappropriate alternative to the animal turning model. These findings challenge the reliability of human turning measures, and invite more broadly for a critical evaluation of turning measures as an indicator of hemispheric DA asymmetries in human populations.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13576500601051580

Affiliations: University of Bristol, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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