Doing it your way: How individual movement styles affect action prediction

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Individuals show significant variations in performing a motor act. Previous studies in the action observation literature have largely ignored this ubiquitous, if often unwanted, characteristic of motor performance, assuming movement patterns to be highly similar across repetitions and individuals. In the present study, we examined the possibility that individual variations in motor style directly influence the ability to understand and predict others' actions. To this end, we first recorded grasping movements performed with different intents and used a two-step cluster analysis to identify quantitatively 'clusters' of movements performed with similar movement styles (Experiment 1). Next, using videos of the same movements, we proceeded to examine the influence of these styles on the ability to judge intention from action observation (Experiments 2 and 3). We found that motor styles directly influenced observers' ability to 'read' others' intention, with some styles always being less 'readable' than others. These results provide experimental support for the significance of motor variability for action prediction, suggesting that the ability to predict what another person is likely to do next directly depends on her individual movement style.




Koul, A., Cavallo, A., Ansuini, C., & Becchio, C. (2016). Doing it your way: How individual movement styles affect action prediction. PLoS ONE, 11(10).

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