Atypical biological motion kinematics are represented by complementary lower-level and top-down processes during imitation learning Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Learning a novel movement requires a new set of kinematics to be represented by the sensorimotor system. This is often accomplished through imitation learning where lower-level sensorimotor processes are suggested to represent the biological motion kinematics associated with an observed movement. Top-down factors have the potential to influence this process based on the social context, attention and salience, and the goal of the movement. In order to further examine the potential interaction between lower-level and top-down processes in imitation learning, the aim of this study was to systematically control the mediating effects during an imitation of biological motion protocol. In this protocol, we used non-human agent models that displayed different novel atypical biological motion kinematics, as well as a control model that displayed constant velocity. Importantly the three models had the same movement amplitude and movement time. Also, the motion kinematics were displayed in the presence, or absence, of end-state-targets. Kinematic analyses showed atypical biological motion kinematics were imitated, and that this performance was different from the constant velocity control condition. Although the imitation of atypical biological motion kinematics was not modulated by the end-state-targets, movement time was more accurate in the absence, compared to the presence, of an end-state-target. The fact that end-state targets modulated movement time accuracy, but not biological motion kinematics, indicates imitation learning involves top-down attentional, and lower-level sensorimotor systems, which operate as complementary processes mediated by the environmental context.


  • Hayes, Spencer J
  • Dutoy, Chris A
  • Elliott, Digby
  • Gowen, Emma
  • Bennett, Simon J

publication date

  • January 2016