Observed reach trajectory influences executed reach kinematics in prehension

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2011 Jun;64(6):1082-93. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2010.538068. Epub 2011 Jan 31.


Previous studies have demonstrated that the observation of action can modulate motor performance. This literature has focused on manipulating the observed goal of the action, rather than examining whether action observation effects could be elicited by changing observed kinematics alone. In the study presented here, observed reach trajectory kinematics unrelated to the goal of the action were manipulated in order to examine whether observed movement kinematics alone could influence the action of the observer. Participants observed an experimenter grasp a target object using either a normal or an exaggeratedly high reaching action (as though reaching over an invisible obstacle). When participants observed the experimenter perform actions with a high reach trajectory, their own movements took on aspects of the observed action, showing greater wrist height throughout their reaching trajectory than under conditions in which they observed normal reaching actions. The data are discussed in relation to previous findings which suggest that kinematic aspects of observed movements can prime action through kinematic or intention based matching processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Wrist / physiology
  • Young Adult