Manipulation of Visual-Motor Experience to Probe for Observation-Induced After-Effects in Adaptation Learning

MSL research field: 
Skill acquisition
TitleManipulation of Visual-Motor Experience to Probe for Observation-Induced After-Effects in Adaptation Learning
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsLim, SB, Larssen, BC, Hodges, NJ
JournalExperimental Brain Research
KeywordsAction observation, Demonstrations, Internal models, Motor learning, Motor resonance, observational learning, practice

Observers can learn to move in novel, adapted environments after watching a learning or expert model. Although this is an effective practice technique, it is unclear how this learning is achieved and if observers update an internal model of their visual-motor environment, as shown through the presence of after-effects (i.e., negative carry-over effects when aiming in a normal environment following exposure to perturbed conditions). For such updating to occur via observational practice, it has been reasoned that the observer requires the motor capabilities to perform the task they are observing. To test this, we first trained 3 groups to physically move in clockwise (CW) or counterclockwise (CCW) rotated environments. When immediately returned to a normal environment, after-effects were seen. We then attempted to wash-out these effects before allowing two of these groups (CW and CCW), and a naïve observation only group, to watch a video of an actor performing in a CW environment. This observation phase was immediately followed by another test for after-effects, and a direct test of learning when aiming in the rotated environment. Consistent with previous data, there were direct learning effects due to observation. Although after-effects increased for the experienced observers, these were small and were not significantly different from a physical practice only group that did not undergo the observation phase. Therefore, even with a motor repertoire for the rotated environment, there was a lack of evidence that observational practice results in implicit (re)updating of an internal model for aiming.

Refereed DesignationRefereed