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Unravelling the contributions of motor experience and conceptual knowledge in action perception: A training study

Gerson, S. A. ORCID:, Meyer, M., Hunnius, S. and Bekkering, H. 2017. Unravelling the contributions of motor experience and conceptual knowledge in action perception: A training study. Scientific Reports 7 , 46761. 10.1038/srep46761

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Prior knowledge affects how we perceive the world and the sensorimotor system actively guides our perception. An ongoing dispute regards the extent to which prior motor knowledge versus conceptual knowledge modulates the observation of others’ actions. Research indicates that motor experience increases motor activation during action perception. Other research, however, has shown that conceptual familiarity with actions also modulates motor activation, i.e., increased motor activation during observation of unfamiliar, compared to conceptually familiar, actions. To begin to disentangle motor from conceptual contributions to action perception, we uniquely combined motoric and conceptual interventions into one design. We experimentally manipulated participants’ experience with both motoric skills and conceptual knowledge, via motor training of kinematically challenging actions and contextual information about the action, respectively, in a week-long training session. Measurements of the effects on motor activity measured via electroencephalography (EEG) during pre- and post-training action observation were compared. We found distinct, non-interacting effects of both manipulations: Motor training increased motor activation, whereas additional conceptual knowledge decreased motor activation. The findings indicate that both factors influence action perception in a distinct and parallel manner. This research speaks to previously irreconcilable findings and provides novel insights about the distinct roles of motor and conceptual contributions to action perception.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 May 2017
Date of Acceptance: 21 March 2017
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 08:57

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