Word Generation Affects Hand Movements But Not The Reverse

Open Access
Zhang, Lisai
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David A. Rosenbaum, Thesis Supervisor
  • David A. Rosenbaum, Honors Advisor
  • Judith Fran Kroll, Faculty Reader
  • cognition
  • perceptual-motor control
  • dual-task
  • interaction
  • word generation
  • hand movement
Past research has shown that cognitive and perceptual-motor activities affect one another, but progress in this area has been hampered by the lack of continuous measures of perceptual-motor activity. To address this need, I compared performance on a word generation task and a continuous hand movement task. I studied each task on its own and combined with the other. The word generation task was to generate words for categories that were either superordinate (e.g., animals) or subordinate (e.g., reptiles). The hand movement task was to move a small cart back and forth on a track. Participants (N=10) performed 5 trials of each task on its own and in combination. Trials took 1 minute and were tested in a random order per participant. The results revealed that the word generation task significantly interfered with the hand movement task, but not vice versa. Participants generated more words in the superordinate (broad) categories than the subordinate (narrow) categories, but this effect was uninfluenced by moving the hand or not. By contrast, moving the hand showed different patterns depending on whether or not the word generation task was carried out at the same time. This study shows the power of the approach taken here, which could apply to the analysis of neurodegenerative diseases, among other practical concerns.