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Predicting others' actions: Evidence for a constant time delay in action simulation

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Sparenberg,  Peggy
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Springer,  Anne
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Prinz,  Wolfgang
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Sparenberg, P., Springer, A., & Prinz, W. (2012). Predicting others' actions: Evidence for a constant time delay in action simulation. Psychological Research, 76(1), 41-49. doi:10.1007/s00426-011-0321-z.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-532B-5
Abstract
Recent evidence indicates that humans can precisely predict the outcome of occluded actions. It has been suggested that these predictions arise from a mental simulation which might run in real-time. The present experiments aimed to specify the time course of this simulation process. Participants watched transiently occluded point-light actions and the temporal outcome after occlusion was manipulated. Participants were instructed to judge the temporal coherence of the action after a short (Experiment 1) and a long occlusion period (Experiment 2). Both experiments revealed a comparable negative point of subjective equality (PSE), indicating that action simulation took constantly longer than the observed action itself. Such a temporal error was not present when inverted actions were used, (Experiment 3) ruling out a pure visually driven effect. The results suggest that the temporal error is due to costs arising from a switch from action perception to an internal simulation process involving motor representations.