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JN_Spatial position information accumulates steadily over time

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New Research in Journal of Neuroscience

Congratulations to Eckart, whose latest paper has just been accepted for publication in JN.

Spatial position information accumulates steadily over time

Eckart Zimmerman, Concetta Morrone and David C. Burr

The acquisition of sensorimotor parameters that control goal-directed motor behaviours occurs by observing another person. During such observation, biological motion properties associated with the observed person are coded into a representation that controls motor learning. Understanding the underlying mechanisms, specifically associated with coding biological motion, has theoretical and practical significance. In this study, we examined the following questions: are the underlying velocity characteristics associated with observed biological motion kinematics imitated? (Experiment 1); is attention involved in imitating biological motion kinematics? (Experiment 2); can selective attention modulate how biological motion kinematics are imitated/represented? (Experiment 3). Having completed practice during which participants observed a model displaying a movement sequence, and thus did not overtly generate any motor signals, kinematic analyses confirmed that biological motion kinematics were imitated. Using a dual-task tone counting protocol, we attenuated the coding of biological motion kinematics (Experiment 2), and subsequently augmented coding using a selective attention protocol (Experiment 3). These findings confirmed velocity characteristics of biological motion kinematics are coded during observation, most likely through bottom-up sensorimotor processes. The fact that we influenced coding using two different attentional protocols indicated these bottom-up processes are influenced by input modulation, which is consistent with top-down control during observational practice.

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