Motion trajectory information and agency influence motor learning during observational practice

Roberts, James W. and Bennett, Simon J. and Elliott, Digby and Hayes, Spencer J. (2015) Motion trajectory information and agency influence motor learning during observational practice. Acta Psychologica, 159. pp. 76-84. ISSN 0001-6918

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Fundamental to performing actions is the acquisition of motor behaviours. We examined if motor learning, through observational practice, occurs by viewing an agent displaying naturalistic or constant velocity, and whether motion trajectory, as opposed to end-state, information is required. We also investigated if observational practice is sensitive to belief regarding the origin of an agent. Participants had to learn a novel movement sequence timing task, which required upper-limb movements to a series of targets within a pre-specified absolute and relative time goal. Experiment 1 showed learning after viewing naturalistic and constant velocity, but not end-state information. For Experiment 2, in addition to learning the movement sequence, participants observed a series of movement stimuli that were either the trained or new sequences and asked to rate their confidence on whether the observed sequence was the same or different to observational practice. The results indicated agency belief modulates how naturalistic and constant velocity is coded. This indicated the processes associated with belief are part of an interpretative predictive coding system where the association between belief and observed motion is determined. When motion is constant velocity, or believed to be computer-generated, coding occurs through top-down processes. When motion is naturalistic velocity, and believed to be human-generated, it is most likely coded by gaining access to bottom-up sensorimotor processes in the action-observation network.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Acta Psychologica. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Acta Psychologica, Vol 159, July 2015,
Keywords: observational practice; naturalistic velocity; constant velocity; end-state goals; belief; top-down modulation
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > School of Health Sciences
Depositing User: James Roberts
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2017 08:31
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 08:31

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