Top-down attentional processes modulate the coding of atypical biological motion kinematics in the absence of motor signals. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The acquisition of sensorimotor parameters that control goal-directed motor behaviors occurs by observing another person in the absence of efferent and afferent motor signals. This is observational practice. During such observation, biological motion properties associated with the observed person are coded into a representation that controls motor learning. Understanding the underlying processes, specifically associated with coding biological motion, has theoretical and practical significance. Here, we examined the following questions. Experiment 1: Are the underlying velocity characteristics associated with observed biological motion kinematics imitated? Experiment 2: Is attention involved in imitating biological motion kinematics? Experiment 3: Can selective attention modulate how biological motion kinematics are imitated/represented? To this end, participants practiced by observing a model performing a movement sequence that contained typical or atypical biological motion kinematics. The differences in kinematics were designed to dissociate the movement constraints of the task and the anatomical constraints of the observer. This way, we examined whether novel motor behaviors are acquired by adopting prototypical movements or coding biological motion. The kinematic analyses indicated the timing and spatial position of peak velocity were represented. Using a dual-task protocol, we attenuated the coding of biological motion kinematics (Experiment 2) and augmented coding using a selective attention protocol (Experiment 3). Findings indicated that velocity characteristics of biological motion kinematics are coded during observational practice, most likely through bottom-up sensorimotor processes. By modulating motion coding using 2 attentional protocols, we showed that bottom-up processes are influenced by input modulation, which is consistent with top-down control during observational practice.

authors

publication date

  • August 2014