Research Article

Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 214, Issue 4, pp 567-576

First online:

Effects of the model’s handedness and observer’s viewpoint on observational learning

  • Hassan RohbanfardAffiliated withDépartement de kinésiologie, Université de Montréal
  • , Luc ProteauAffiliated withDépartement de kinésiologie, Université de Montréal Email author 

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Observation promotes motor skill learning. However, little is known about the type of model and conditions of observation that can optimize learning. In this study, we investigated the effects of the model’s handedness and the observer’s viewpoint on the learning of a complex spatiotemporal task. Four groups of right-handed participants observed, from either a first- or third-person viewpoint, right- or left-handed models performing the task. Observation resulted in significant learning. More importantly, observation of same-handed models resulted in improved learning as compared with observation of opposite-handed models, regardless of the observer’s viewpoint. This suggests that the action observation network (AON) is more sensitive to the model’s handedness than to the observer’s viewpoint. Our results are consistent with recent studies that suggest that the AON is linked to or involves sensorimotor regions of the brain that simulate motor programming as if the observed movement was performed with one’s own dominant hand.


Allocentric observation Egocentric observation Relative timing Observation perspective Model handedness Action observation network Motor skill learning