Motor interference and facilitation arising from observed movement kinematics

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2012;65(5):840-7. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2012.672995. Epub 2012 Apr 11.


Previous studies demonstrate that observing the movements of others can interfere with concurrent movement execution. This interference effect is attributed to incongruence between the observed and executed movements. The study presented here examined different aspects of observed and executed movement congruency. Participants attempted to trace straight lines in the air using one of two movement tasks while observing an experimenter perform movements varied by their task and spatial congruency. The data revealed that kinematic aspects of the observed movements were incorporated into the observer's own movements. Observing the same kinematics led to interference or facilitation effects depending on whether the direction of the observed movement was congruent or incongruent with the movement the participant performed. These data suggest that low-level properties of observed movements can modulate participant performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior
  • Male
  • Mirror Neurons*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Movement*
  • Psychomotor Performance*