Now and then: Hand choice is influenced by recent action history

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Electronic versions



Action choices are influenced by recent past and predicted future action states. Here we demonstrate that recent hand choice history affects both current hand choices and response times to initiate actions. Participants reach to contact visible targets using one hand. Hand choice is biased in favour of which hand was used recently, in particular when the biomechanical costs of responding with either hand are similar, and repeated choices lead to reduced response times. These effects are also found to positively correlate. Participants who show strong effects of recent history on hand choice also tend to show strong effects of recent history on response times. The data are consistent with a computational efficiency interpretation whereby repeated action choices confer computational gains in the efficiency of underpinning processes. We discuss our results within the framework of this model, and with respect to balancing predicted gains and losses, and speculate about the possible underlying mechanisms in neural terms.


  • Adolescent, Adult, Biomechanical Phenomena, Choice Behavior, Female, Functional Laterality/physiology, Hand/physiology, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Psychomotor Performance/physiology, Reaction Time, Young Adult
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Total downloads

No data available
View graph of relations