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Motor learning in dance using different modalities: visual vs. verbal models

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mages illustrating approximately two-thirds of Phrase 1, choreographed by Jenny Coogan and performed by Robin Jung. The phrase was presented as video of 26 s and as audio recording of a verbal description (speaker: Alex Simkins). Phrase 2, choreographed by José Biondi, was of similar length and complexity and contained similar movement elements as Phrase 1, and was performed and spoken by the same dancer and speaker in the video and audio recording, respectively. The verbal description of the dance sequence shown in the pictures reads as follows: ''Stand facing the front left diagonal of the room in first position. At the same time extend your left leg forward and your two arms sideways to the horizontal. Allow your right hand to continue moving until it arrives to a high diagonal. Gradually let the shape melt back into its beginning position as you shift your weight into the right hip, bending both knees, sinking your head to the left to make a big C-curve. Continue into falling, then catch the weight with a step of the left leg crossing to the right. Follow with two steps sideward, in the same direction while throwing both arms in front of your shoulders. Keeping your arms close to you, spiral to the right diagonal, then, kick your right leg, left arm and head forward as you throw your right arm behind you. Bring the energy back into you quickly bending both elbows and the right knee close to the body, spine vertical. Drop your arms and take a step back onto your right leg turning fully around while dragging your left leg behind you. Finish with the weight low, left leg behind, spine rounded forward, arms wrapped around the body, right arm front, left arm back. Stretch your legs and gradually lengthen your spine horizontally. Allow your arms to follow the succession of your spine, right front, left back''
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(Polich 2007) of the salient fingering manipulation, recognized by
the pianists as obvious target manipulation. Finally, syntax-related
effects held when only considering the manner incorrect trials, and
their context dependency was sharper with increasing expertise level
(computed as cumulated training hours across all years of piano
playing). This suggests that syntactic mechanisms take priority over
movements’ specifications, especially in more expert pianists being
more affected by the priming effect of the contextual syntactic
structure.
Taken together, these findings indicate that, given a contextual
musical structure, motor plans for distal musical goal are generated
coherently with the context and forehead those ones underlying
specific, immediate movement selection. Moreover, the increase of
syntax-based motor control with expertise might hint at the action
planning based on musical syntax as a slowly acquired skill built on
top of the acquisition of motor flexibility. More generally, this finding
indicates that, similarly to music perception, music production too
relies on generative syntactic rules.
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Motor learning in dance using different modalities:
visual vs. verbal models
Bettina Bla¨sing
1
, Jenny Coogan
2
, Jose´ Biondi
2
, Liane Simmel
3
,
Thomas Schack
1
1
Neurocognition and Action Research Group & Center of Excellence
Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC), Bielefeld University,
Germany;
2
Palucca Hochschule fu¨r Tanz Dresden, Germany;
3
tamed Tanzmedizin Deutschland e.V., Fit for Dance Praxis und
Institut fu¨r Tanzmedizin, Mu¨ nchen, Germany
Keywords
Motor learning, Observation, Visual model, Verbal instruction, Dance
Introduction
Observational learning is viewed as the major mode of motor learning
(Hodges et al. 2007). Empirical evidence shows that observational
learning primarily takes place in an implicit way, by activating shared
neural correlates of movement execution, observation and simulation
(Jeannerod 2004; Cross et al. 2006, 2009). It has been shown that the
use of language (in terms of verbal cues) can facilitate or enhance
motor learning by guiding attention towards relevant features of the
movement and making these aspects explicit (see Wulf and Prinz
2001). In dance training (and other movement disciplines), observa-
tional learning from a visual model is most commonly applied, and is
often supported by verbal cue-giving. Evidence from practice sug-
gests that explicit verbal instructions and movement descriptions play
a major role in movement learning by supporting the understanding,
internalizing and simulating of movement phrases. In modern and
contemporary dance, however, choreographers often do not expect the
dancers to simply reproduce movement phrases in adequate form, but
to develop movement material on their own, in accordance with a
given idea, description or instruction, aiming at a more personal
expression and higher artistic quality of the developed movement
material.
In this study, we investigate dancers’ learning of movement
phrases based on the exclusive and complementary use of visual
model observation and verbal instruction (movement description).
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Dance students learned comparable movement material via two dif-
ferent modes: via observation of a model and via listening to a verbal
movement description (as example, a part of a model sequence is
displayed in Fig. 1). In a second step, the complementary mode was
added. After both learning steps, the students’ performance of the
learned movement phrases was recorded and rated by independent
experts. A retention test was applied to evaluate long-term effects of
the learning processes. We expected the dance students to learn
successfully from the visual model, their most commonly practiced
mode of movement learning. From the verbal instruction, we
expected that performed movement phrases would vary more
strongly, but could possibly be performed with more artistic quality.
We also expected performance after the second learning step to be
improved compared to the first learning step in both conditions.
Method
Learning task: Eighteen students (age: 18.4 ±1.0 years, 11 female)
from the BA Dance study program at the Palucca Hochschule fu
¨r
Tanz Dresden learned two dance phrases of similar length (approx.
30 s) and complexity, one via visual observation of a demonstration
video, the other one via a recorded verbal description (see Fig. 1). In a
first learning step (Step 1), one of the dance phrases was presented
five times either visually (video) or verbally (audio), and the partic-
ipant was instructed to learn it by watching or listening, and by
marking movements as required. After a short practice, the participant
performed the learned dance phrase while being recorded on video. In
a second learning step (Step 2), the participant was twice presented
the same dance phrase in the complementary presentation mode (i.e.,
video for the verbally learned phrase and vice versa), and the per-
formance was recorded again. The other dance phrase was then
learned and performed using the same procedure, but was presented in
the remaining learning mode (verbal or visual) in the Step 1, com-
plemented by the other mode in the Step 2. The order of the dance
phrases (Phrase 1, Phrase 2) and of the initial leaning modes (visual,
verbal) was balanced between the participants (the experimental
design of the study is illustrated in Table 1). The experimental pro-
cedure took place in a biomechanics laboratory and lasted
approximately one hour for each participant. Additional to the eval-
uation of the recorded performances, questionnaires and psychometric
tests were applied to investigate the students’ learning success and
their personal impressions of the different learning processes.
Expert ratings of the reproduced material: Two independent experts
rated the recorded performance trials from the recorded and cut
video clips, one of each demonstration condition (visual,
visual + verbal, verbal, verbal + visual). The experts rated each of
the recorded performances by filling out a questionnaire consisting
of six-point Likert-scale type questions assigned to two categories,
accordance with the model (AM; 10 questions) and artistic per-
formance quality (PQ, 5 questions). For each category of questions,
ratings of the questions were averaged to achieve general measures
for the main criteria AM and PQ. Each expert independently wat-
ched the recordings from the students’ performances and marked
one answer for each question, without knowing about the learning
condition of the recorded performance. Non-parametric tests (Wil-
coxon signed-rank, Mann–Whitney U) were used to compare the
averaged ratings of the two experts for the different conditions
(visual, visual + verbal, verbal, verbal + visual) within each crite-
rion (AM, PQ) and for the two criteria within each demonstration
condition.
Retention test: Thirteen of the dance students (8 female) participated
in a retention test that was carried out 10–13 days after the experi-
mental learning task. The retention test included the video-recorded
performance of the remembered movement material, psychometric
tests and questionnaires. In the performance part of the test, each
student was asked to perform both dance phrases as completely as
possible. Students were allowed to practice for several minutes before
being recorded, but were not given any assistance in reproducing the
phrases. Each student was recorded individually and on his/her own in
a separate dance studio. The video recordings of the students’ per-
formance in the retention test were annotated for the completeness of
the phrases by two annotators. Each phrase was segmented into ele-
ven partial phrase, or elements, of similar content (note that the
phrases had been choreographed to resemble each other in com-
plexity, duration and structure). The annotators independently
watched the recordings and marked the completeness of each of the
eleven elements as value between 0 and 1 (0: the element was not
danced at all, or was not recognizable; 1: the element was clearly
recognizable and was performed without error); ratings of the two
annotators were then averaged. Each student thereby received for
each of the two phrases a value between 0 (no partial phrase was
reproduced at all) and 11 (all partial phrases were reproduced per-
fectly). Non-parametric tests (Wilcoxon signed-rank, Mann–Whitney
U) were used to compare averaged completeness scores between
dance phrases (Phrase 1, Phrase 2) and learning modes (visual first,
verbal first).
Results
Expert ratings: Ratings of the two experts were positively correlated for
both criteria, AM (r =0.528; p\.001) and PQ (r =0.513; p\.001).
After Step 1, ratings of PQ were significantly better than ratings for AM
(visual: 3.82, 3.33; Z =-2.987, p=.003; verbal: 3.73, 2.69; Z =
-3.529, p\.001), whereas ratingsdid not differ after Step 2. AM ratings
after learningonly from verbal descriptionwas lower (2.69) than after all
other conditions (verbal + visual: 3.48, Z =-3.724, p\.001; visual:
3.33, Z =-3.624, p\.001; visual + verbal: 3.65, Z =-3.682,
p\.001), and AM ratings after visual + verbal learning were higher
than after visual learning (Z =-2.573, p=.01). PQ ratings did not
differ for any of the learning conditions.
Fig. 1 Images illustrating approximately two-thirds of Phrase 1,
choreographed by Jenny Coogan and performed by Robin Jung. The
phrase was presented as video of 26 s and as audio recording of a
verbal description (speaker: Alex Simkins). Phrase 2, choreographed
by Jose
´Biondi, was of similar length and complexity and contained
similar movement elements as Phrase 1, and was performed and
spoken by the same dancer and speaker in the video and audio
recording, respectively. The verbal description of the dance sequence
shown in the pictures reads as follows: ‘‘Stand facing the front left
diagonal of the room in first position. At the same time extend your
left leg forward and your two arms sideways to the horizontal. Allow
your right hand to continue moving until it arrives to a high diagonal.
Gradually let the shape melt back into its beginning position as you
shift your weight into the right hip, bending both knees, sinking your
head to the left to make a big C-curve. Continue into falling, then
catch the weight with a step of the left leg crossing to the right.
Follow with two steps sideward, in the same direction while throwing
both arms in front of your shoulders. Keeping your arms close to you,
spiral to the right diagonal, then, kick your right leg, left arm and head
forward as you throw your right arm behind you. Bring the energy
back into you quickly bending both elbows and the right knee close to
the body, spine vertical. Drop your arms and take a step back onto
your right leg turning fully around while dragging your left leg behind
you. Finish with the weight low, left leg behind, spine rounded
forward, arms wrapped around the body, right arm front, left arm
back. Stretch your legs and gradually lengthen your spine horizon-
tally. Allow your arms to follow the succession of your spine, right
front, left back’
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Cogn Process (2014) 15 (Suppl 1):S1–S158 S91
Retention test: Completeness scores given by the two annotators were
highly correlated for both sequences (Phrase 1: r =0.942, p\.001;
Phrase 2: r =0.930, p\.001). No differences were found between
the groups (Group 1: Phrase 1 verbal first, N =5; Group 2: Phrase 1
visual first, N =8) in general, and no differences were found between
the two sequences (Phrase 1: 7.64; Phrase 2: 6.90). Scores were better
for the first visually learned phrase (8.32) than for the phrase first
learned from verbal description (6.23) (Z =-1.992, p=.046).
When the sequences were regarded separately, groups differed for
Phrase 2 (Group 1: 9.17; Group 2: 5.48), but not for Phrase 1 (Group
1: 7.42; Group 2: 7.78), with Group 1 performing better than Group 2
(Z =-2.196, p=.028) (see Fig. 2). When comparing ratings for the
individual elements (1 to 11), primacy effects were found for both
dance phrases, in terms of higher scores for the first 3 and 2 parts in
Phrase 1 and Phrase 2, respectively (Phrase 1: element 1 differed from
6, 7, 8, 9 and 11; 2 differed from 5, 6, 7, 8; 3 differed from 4, 5, 6, 7,
8, 9 and 10; Phrase 2: 1 differed from 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11; 2
differed from 4, 7, 9 and 10; all p\=.05).
Discussion
Interdisciplinary projects linking dance and neurocognitive
research have recently come to increasing awareness in artistic and
scientific communities (see Bla
¨sing et al. 2012; Sevdalis, Keller
2011). The presented project on observational (implicit) and verbal
(explicit) movement learning in dance has been developed within
an interdisciplinary network (Dance engaging Science; The
Forsythe Company | Motion Bank), motivated by scientific, artistic
and (dance-) pedagogical questions. We compared expert ratings
for the recorded performance of two different movement phrases
in 18 dance students who had learned one phrase initially via
verbal description and the other one via observation of a video
model. After dancing the phrase and being recorded, students
received the complementary modality to learn from, and were
recorded performing again. Ratings for performance quality were
better than rating for model reproduction after the first learning
step (one modality), but not after the second learning step (two
modalities). After learning from only one modality, ratings for
accordance with the model were better if the first learning
modality was visual than verbal, whereas ratings for performance
quality did not differ for visual vs. verbal learning. When the
students had to reproduce the learned movement material in a
retention test, the (initially) visually learned material was repro-
duced more completely than the verbally learned material,
however, when the dance phrases were regarded separately, this
result was only significant for one of the phrases. The results
corroborate findings regarding observational learning of move-
ments in dance and other disciplines or tasks, but also suggest
dissociation between the exact execution of a model phrase and
the artistic quality of dance, even in the learning phase. As
expected, accordance with the model phrases was stronger after
visual learning and after two compared to one modalities (which
might as well have been influenced by the additional practice, as
this was always the second learning step.) Regarding artistic
quality of performance, the students danced the newly learned
material after learning from verbal description as well as after
learning from visual observation, but not better, as we had
expected. Questionnaires and psychometric tests are currently
being analyzed to complement the reported findings of this study.
We expect the outcomes to contribute to our understanding of
explicit and implicit motor learning on the basis of different
modalities, and also to yield potential implications for teaching
and training in dance-related disciplines. While explicit learning
(via verbal instruction) and implicit learning (via observation and
practice) have been found to work synergistically in skilled motor
action (Taylor and Ivry 2013), the situation might be different for
dance and potentially for dance-like movement in general (see
Schachner and Carey 2013), in which skilful movement execution
largely depends on kinesthetic awareness; further research is
needed at this point. Further implications could be derived for
Fig. 2 Left Mean expert ratings of students’ performance for
accordance with the model (AM; dark grey columns) and perfor-
mance quality (PQ; light grey columns) after learning from one
(visual, verbal) and two (visual + verbal, verbal + visual) modalities
(ratings for both dance phrases are pooled); right completeness scores
for students’ performance in the retention test for Phrases 1 and 2;
dark grey columns Group 1 (Phrase 1 verbal, verbal + visual; Phrase
2 visual, visual + verbal); light grey columns Group 2 (Phrase 1
visual, visual + verbal; Phrase 2 verbal, verbal + visual)
Table 1 Experimental design of the learning task
Learning task Group 1a N =4 Group 2a N =4 Group 2b N =5 Group 1b N =5
Pre-test questionnaires
Step 1 Phrase 1 Verbal (5x) Visual (5x) Phrase 2 Verbal (5x) Visual (5x)
Step 2 +Visual (2x) +Verbal (2x) +Visual (2x) +Verbal (2x)
Performance Record 1–3x Record 1–3x Record 1–3x Record 1–3x
Step 1 Phrase 2 Visual (5x) Verbal (5x) Phrase 1 Visual (5x) Verbal (5x)
Step 2 +Verbal (2x) +Visual (2x) +Verbal (2x) +Visual (2x)
Performance Record 1–3x Record 1–3x Record 1–3x Record 1–3x
Post-test questionnaire, psychometric tests, interview
Retention N=3N=4N=4N=2
Performance Phrases 1, 2 Record 1x Record 1x Phrases 1, 2 Record 1x Record 1x
Retention questionnaire, psychometric tests
Step 1, 2: successive learning steps; Phrase 1, 2: movement material; visual, verbal: demonstration mode; Performance: video-recorded
performance of the learned dance phrase
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S92 Cogn Process (2014) 15 (Suppl 1):S1–S158
learning in general, specifically regarding the potential benefit of
combining different modes (or modalities) for conveying infor-
mation in order to shape and optimize learning success.
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A frontotemporoparietal network common to initiating
and responding to joint attention bids
Nathan Caruana, Jon Brock, Alexandra Woolgar
ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders,
Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney,
Australia
Joint attention is the ability to interactively coordinate attention with
another person to objects of mutual interest, and is a fundamental
component of daily interpersonal relationships and communication.
According to the Parallel Distributed Processing model (PDPM;
Mundy, Newell 2007), responding to joint attention bids (RJA) is
supported by posterior-parietal cortical regions, while initiating joint
attention (IJA) involves frontal regions. Although the model
emphasizes their functional and developmental divergence, it also
suggests that the integration of frontal and posterior-parietal net-
works is crucial for the emergence of complex joint attention
behavior, allowing individuals to represent their own attentional
perspective as well as the attentional focus of their social partner in
parallel. However, little is known about the neural basis of these
parallel joint attention processes, due to a lack of ecologically valid
paradigms.
In the present study, we used functional magnetic resonance
imaging to directly test the claims of the PDPM. Thirteen subjects (9
male, M
age
=24.85, SD =5.65) were scanned as they engaged with
an avatar whom they believed was operated by another person outside
the scanner, but was in fact controlled by a gaze-contingent computer
algorithm. The task involved catching a burglar who was hiding
inside one of six houses displayed on the screen. Each trial began with
a ‘search phase’, during which there was a division of labor between
the subject and their virtual partner. Subjects were required to search
a row of three houses located at either the top or bottom of the screen,
whilst the avatar searched the other row. When the subject fixated one
of their designated houses, the door opened to reveal an empty house
or the burglar (see Fig. 1a). The location of the subject’s designated
houses was counterbalanced across acquisition runs. Subjects were
instructed that whoever found the burglar on each trial had to guide
their partner to that location by first establishing mutual gaze and then
looking at the appropriate house.
On RJA trials, subjects searched their designated houses, each of
which would be empty. The avatar would then complete his search and
guide the subject to the burglar’s location. Once the subject responded
and joint attention was achieved, positive feedback was provided with
the burglar appearing behind bars to symbolize that he had been
successfully captured. On IJA trials, the subject would find the burglar
inside one of their designated houses. Once the avatar had completed
his search and mutual gaze was established, the subject was then
required to initiate joint attention by saccading towards the correct
location. The avatar responded by gazing at the location fixated by the
subject, regardless of whether it was correct or not. Again, positive
feedback was provided when joint attention was achieved at the bur-
glar’s location. Negative feedback was also provided if the subject
failed to make a responsive eye movement within three seconds, or if
they responded or initiated by fixating an incorrect location.
During the search phase, the avatar’s gaze behavior was controlled
so that he only completed his search after the subject completed their
search and fixated back on the avatar. This meant that subjects were
required to monitor the avatar’s attention during their interaction,
before responding to, or initiating a joint attention bid. In this para-
digm—as in ecological interactions—establishing mutual gaze was
therefore essential in determining whether the avatar was ready to
guide the subject, or respond to the subject’s initiation of joint
attention. The onset latencies of the avatar’s gaze behavior (i.e.
alternating between search houses, establishing mutual gaze, and
executing responding or initiating saccades) were also jittered with a
uniform distribution between 500 and 1,000 ms. This served to
enhance the avatar’s ecological appearance.
The subject’s social role as a ‘responder’ or ‘initiator’ only
became apparent throughout the course of each trial. Our paradigm
thereby created a social context that (1) elicited intentional, goal-
driven joint attention (2) naturally informed subjects of their social
role without overt instruction, and (3) required subjects to engage in
social attention monitoring.
In order to account for the effect of non-social task features, the
neural correlates of RJA and IJA were investigated relative to non-
social control conditions that were matched on attentional demands,
number of eye movements elicited and task complexity. During these
trials, the avatar remained on the screen with his eyes closed, and
subjects were told that both partners were completing the task inde-
pendently. In the IJA control condition (IJAc), subjects found the
burglar, looked back to a central fixation point and, when this turned
green, saccaded towards the burglar location. In the RJA control
condition (RJAc), the fixation point became an arrow directing them
to the burglar location (see Fig. 1b).
A synchronization pulse was used at the beginning of each
acquisition run to allow for the BOLD and eye tracking data to be
Fig. 1 a This is an example of the stimuli used in the social condition
(i.e. RJA and IJA). bThis is an example of the stimuli used in the
control conditions (i.e. RJAc and IJAc) Note that for aand b, the eye-
shaped symbol represents the subject’s eye movement resulting in
joint attention. This was not part of the stimulus visible to subjects
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Cogn Process (2014) 15 (Suppl 1):S1–S158 S93
Chapter
A tool or a product cannot be used without our knowledge or ability of how to operate it. This chapter deals with the fundamental issues of our motor behavior that help us to perform tasks that range from the very simple to those that are highly complex ones, say, as in many industrial settings. Unfortunately, unlike perceptual and cognitive functions, as discussed in the previous chapter, the study of motor behavior has not been so well studied in the domain of psychology and is often, therefore, referred to as “the Cinderella of modern psychology.” This chapter opens with a description of the mechanism of motor behavior and its significance in performing our tasks and elaborates on the role of open and closed loop systems in the context of motor development of children who begin to engage in simple tasks such as climbing the stairs or playing with their toys. In the next section of this chapter, we focus on implications of our systemic knowledge of motor behavior in such diverse fields as prostheses, sport, and dance. Further, it shows the significant role of motor imagery in the mastering of such tasks. Another topic most commonly discussed in the understanding of motor behavior deals with the significance of Fitts’ law in reaching out to objects. Its numerous applications have been highlighted as well. Other topics include descriptions of human–computer interface (HCI), augmentation of motor functions, brain–computer interface with the example of Stephen Hawking, and more.
Article
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This paper aims to propose a hierarchical, generative account of diatonic harmonic progressions and suggest a set of phrase-structure grammar rules. It argues that the structure of harmonic progressions exceeds the simplicity of the Markovian transition tables and proposes a set of rules to account for harmonic progressions with respect to key structure, functional and scale degree features as well as modulations. Harmonic structure is argued to be at least one subsystem in which Western tonal music exhibits recursion and hierarchical organization that may provide a link to overarching linguistic generative grammar on a structural and potentially cognitive level.
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This chapter examines implicit and explicit techniques involved in motor learning through two model tasks—the serial reaction time task (SRT) and visuomotor adaptation—a unique feature of which is the goal-selection and movement-execution stages. The goal-selection stage plays a key role in the success of the SRT model task in place of simple motor execution. Movement execution plays a critical role in the success of visuomotor adaptation while goal selection gets less attention in this model task. Researchers have also investigated and tested awareness in experiments using the two model tasks. These experiments provide significant information about the functional role of explicit and implicit processes involved in acquiring and enhancing goal-directed movement behavior.
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This paper considers the nature of representations that precede the execution of an action. An analysis of the content of these representations is proposed by using classical tools of cognitive psychology, like introspection and mental chronometry. Their neural vehicle is described in normal subjects with neuroimaging methods and by clinical neuroscience methods like transcranial magnetic stimulation. The contribution of pathological conditions, such as paralysis and amputation, to the description of action representation is discussed. A general framework of motor simulation is proposed as a coherent explanation for the various types of action representation during motor imagery, motor decisions, and action observation. This framework is also used for interpreting the effects of mental training, learning by observation, and the use of neuroprosthetic devices in motorically handicapped people.
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Studies investigating the influence of the learner’s focus of attention, induced by instructions or feedback, on motor skill learning are reviewed. In general, directing performers’ attention to the effects of their movements (external focus of attention) appears to be more beneficial than directing their attention to their own movements (internal focus of attention). Preliminary evidence is presented indicating that an internal attentional focus constrains the motor system by interfering with natural control processes, whereas an external focus seems to allow automatic control processes to regulate the movements. Support for the view that actions are controlled by their anticipated effects comes from research demonstrating functional variability in motor control, as well as the benefits of purposeful activity in occupational therapy. We explain these results in terms of the ideomotor principle of human actions (James, 1890) and its more modern derivatives (Hommel, 1996; Prinz, 1990, 1997).
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Research on action simulation identifies brain areas that are active while imagining or performing simple overlearned actions. Are areas engaged during imagined movement sensitive to the amount of actual physical practice? In the present study, participants were expert dancers who learned and rehearsed novel, complex whole-body dance sequences 5 h a week across 5 weeks. Brain activity was recorded weekly by fMRI as dancers observed and imagined performing different movement sequences. Half these sequences were rehearsed and half were unpracticed control movements. After each trial, participants rated how well they could perform the movement. We hypothesized that activity in premotor areas would increase as participants observed and simulated movements that they had learnt outside the scanner. Dancers' ratings of their ability to perform rehearsed sequences, but not the control sequences, increased with training. When dancers observed and simulated another dancer's movements, brain regions classically associated with both action simulation and action observation were active, including inferior parietal lobule, cingulate and supplementary motor areas, ventral premotor cortex, superior temporal sulcus and primary motor cortex. Critically, inferior parietal lobule and ventral premotor activity was modulated as a function of dancers' ratings of their own ability to perform the observed movements and their motor experience. These data demonstrate that a complex motor resonance can be built de novo over 5 weeks of rehearsal. Furthermore, activity in premotor and parietal areas during action simulation is enhanced by the ability to execute a learned action irrespective of stimulus familiarity or semantic label.
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In this article, we examine the question of what information is processed during observational learning by evaluating a variety of methods, theories, and empirical data. Initially, we review work involving neuroimaging techniques and infant imitation. We then evaluate data from behavioural experiments involving adults, wherein a variety of attempts have been made to isolate the critical or minimal information constraining the acquisition of coordination. This body of research has included comparisons between video and point-light displays, manipulations to the amount and type of information presented in the display, the collection of point-of-gaze data, and manipulations to the task context in terms of outcome goals. We conclude that observational learning is governed by specific features of the model's action (i.e. motions of the end effector) and the task (i.e. outcome constraints) and, in contrast with traditional theoretical modelling, more global aspects of a model (i.e. the relative motions within and between joints) do not appear to be the primary method for constraining action execution.