Movement interference during action observation as emergent coordination

Michael J. Richardson, Walter L. Campbell, R. C. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Previous research has demonstrated that when an actor coordinates with spatially incompatible movements of another individual that motor interference occurs—the rhythmic arm movements of the actor exhibit increased movement variability in the plane orthogonal (non-instructed) to the instructed plane of motion. Here we examine whether this motor contagion reflects not error but the spontaneous recruitment of additional task-specific movement degrees of freedom employed to withstand increasing task difficulty. Participants coordinated congruent and incongruent forearm movements with a confederate moving at a fast, moderate, and slow target frequency. Examining the variability in the non-instructed plane revealed oscillatory non-instructed plane movements that were coordinated with the instructed plane movements of the confederate. The results suggest motor interference during incongruent coordination can be understood as an emergent, task-specific property of the coordination goal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-122
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • motor interference
  • movement compatibility
  • rhythmic coordination
  • self-organized perceptual-motor entrainment


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