Influence of action execution on biological motion perception

Influence of action execution on biological motion perception

Research Area:

Clinical Movement Control and real-life Behavior Analysis for Assistive Systems


Andrea Christensen; Winfried Ilg Martin A. Giese;


H. O. Karnath


The perception and execution of motor actions are tightly interlinked, and numerous experiments suggest the existence of common sensory-motor representations.
Using a virtual-reality setup we aim to investigate the influence of self-generated body motion on the perception of online generated biological motion in combined motor behaviour and psychophysical studies.

The theory has been postulated that the recognition of body movements might be influenced by synchronous internal simulation of the observed motor behaviour. Furthermore it has been supposed that during self-generated movements efference copies of descending motor commands in conjunction with internal forward models supports the prediction of our own movement's consequences. These theories lead to the prediction, that action recognition should critically depend on the similarity between executed and observed movements.

We tested this hypothesis exploiting a novel experimental paradigm that combines advanced real-time full-body tracking with the online-generation biological motion stimuli, making visually observed biological motion stimuli directly dependent on the actual motor behavior of the observer.

Our results provide consistent evidence for a well-defined spatial and temporal tuning of the influence of motor execution on biological motion perception. Facilitatory interactions were observed only for sufficient spatial and temporal coherence between observed and executed action, while degradation of this coherence often resulted in interference.


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