Can joint action be synergistic? Studying the stabilization of interpersonal hand coordination

Veronica Romero, Rachel Kallen, Michael A. Riley, Michael J. Richardson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


The human perceptual-motor system is tightly coupled to the physical and informational dynamics of a task environment and these dynamics operate to constrain the high-dimensional order of the human movement system into low-dimensional, task-specific synergies. The aim of the current study was to determine whether synergistic processes constrain and organize the behavior of co-acting individuals. Participants sat next to each other and each used one arm to complete a pointer-to-target task. Using the uncontrolled manifold, the structure of joint-angle variance was examined to determine whether there was synergistic organization at the interpersonal or intrapersonal levels. The results revealed the motor actions performed were synergistically organized at both the interpersonal and intrapersonal levels. More importantly, the interpersonal synergy was found to be significantly stronger than the intrapersonal synergies. Accordingly, the results provide clear evidence that the action dynamics of co-acting individuals can become temporarily organized to form single synergistic two-person systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCOGSCI 2015
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsD. C. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, P. P. Maglio
Place of PublicationAustin, TX
PublisherCognitive Science Society
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780991196722
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Previously published in Romero, V., Kallen, R., Riley, M. A., & Richardson, M. J. (2015). Can discrete joint action be synergistic? Studying the stabilization of interpersonal hand coordination. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41(5), 1223-1235.


  • joint-action
  • interpersonal coordination
  • motor synergies
  • motor control
  • uncontrolled manifold

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