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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Hum. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00373

Observation of both skilled and erroneous object lifting can improve predictive force scaling in the observer

  • 1Department of Movement Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium
  • 2UCL Institute of Neurology, University College London, United Kingdom

Recent studies have highlighted that the observation of hand-object interactions can influence perceptual weight judgements made by an observer. Moreover, observing salient motor errors during object lifting allows individuals to update their internal sensorimotor representation about object weight. Embodying observed visuomotor cues for the planning of a motor command further enables individuals to accurately scale their fingertip forces when subsequently lifting the same object. However, it is still unknown whether observation of a skilled lift is equally able to mediate predictive motor control in the observer. Here, we tested this hypothesis by asking participants to grasp and lift a manipulandum after observing an actor’s lift. The object weight changed unpredictably (light or heavy) every fourth to sixth trial performed by the actor. Participants were informed that they would always lift the same weight as the actor and that, based on the experimental condition, they would have to observe skilled or erroneously performed lifts. Our results revealed that the observation of both skilled and erroneously performed lifts allows participants to update their internal sensorimotor object representation, in turn enabling them to predict force scaling accurately. These findings suggest that the observation of salient motor errors as well as subtle features of skilled motor performance are embodied in the observer’s motor repertoire and can drive changes in predictive motor control.

Keywords: action observation, hand movement, Motor planning, error prediction, Skilled action, sensorimotor

Received: 07 Jun 2019; Accepted: 02 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Rens and Davare. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Marco Davare, University College London, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, United Kingdom, m.davare@ucl.ac.uk