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Compatibility between observed and executed finger movements: Comparing symbolic, spatial, and imitative cues

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Brass,  Marcel
MPI for Psychological Research (Munich, -2003), The Prior Institutes, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Bekkering,  Harold
MPI for Psychological Research (Munich, -2003), The Prior Institutes, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Wohlschläger,  Andreas
MPI for Psychological Research (Munich, -2003), The Prior Institutes, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Prinz,  Wolfgang
MPI for Psychological Research (Munich, -2003), The Prior Institutes, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Brass, M., Bekkering, H., Wohlschläger, A., & Prinz, W. (2000). Compatibility between observed and executed finger movements: Comparing symbolic, spatial, and imitative cues. Brain and Cognition, 44(2), 124-143. doi:10.1006/brcg.2000.1225.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-A512-0
Abstract
Intuitively, one can assume that imitating a movement is an easier task than responding to a symbolic stimulus like a verbal instruction. Support for this suggestion can be found in neuropsychological research as well as in research on stimulus–response compatibility. However controlled experimental evidence for this assumption is still lacking. We used a stimulus–response compatibility paradigm to test the assumption. In a series of experiments, it was tested whether observed finger movements have a stronger influence on finger movement execution than a symbolic or spatial cue. In the first experiment, we compared symbolic cues with observed finger movements using an interference paradigm. Observing finger movements strongly influenced movement execution, irrespective of whether the finger movement was the relevant or the irrelevant stimulus dimension. In the second experiment, effects of observed finger movements and spatial finger cues were compared. The observed finger movement dominated the spatial finger cue. A reduction in the similarity of observed and executed action in the third experiment led to a decrease of the influence of observed finger movement, which demonstrates the crucial role of the imitative relation of observed and executed action for the described effects. The results are discussed in relation to recent models of stimulus–response compatibility. Neurocognitive support for the strong relationship between movement observation and movement execution is reported.