Advertisement

Stimulus-driven selection of routes to imitation

  • Clare Press
  • Cecilia Heyes
Research Note

Abstract

Several models have proposed that an action can be imitated via one of two routes: a direct visuospatial route, which can in principle mediate imitation of both meaningful (MF) and meaningless (ML) actions, and an indirect semantic route, which can be used only for MF actions. The present study investigated whether selection between the direct and indirect routes is strategic or stimulus driven. Tessari and Rumiati (J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 30:1107–1116, 2004) have previously shown, using accuracy measures, that imitation of MF actions is superior to imitation of ML actions when the two action types are presented in separate blocks, and that the advantage of MF over ML items is smaller or absent when they are presented in mixed blocks. We first replicated this finding using an automated reaction time (RT), as well as accuracy, measure. We then examined imitation of MF and ML actions in the mixed condition as a function of the action type presented in the previous trial and in relation to the number of previous test trials. These analyses showed that (1) for both action types, performance was worse immediately after ML than MF trials, and (2) even at the beginning of the mixed condition, responding to MF actions was no better than responding to ML items. These results suggest that the properties of the action stimulus play a substantial role in determining whether imitation is mediated by the direct or the indirect route, and that effects of block composition on imitation need not be generated through strategic switching between routes.

Keywords

Imitation Semantics Working memory Two-route model Associative sequence learning 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) research centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution. We are grateful to Geoffrey Bird for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript, to Richard Cook for scoring the videos, to Caitlin Orsini for help with piloting, and to Alessia Tessari and Raffaella Rumiati for allowing us to use their stimulus set, and for their advice and encouragement.

References

  1. Catmur C, Walsh V, Heyes C (2007) Sensorimotor learning configures the human mirror system. Curr Biol 17:1527–1531. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.08.006 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Decety J, Grèzes J, Costes N, Perani D, Jeannerod M, Procyk E, Grassi F, Fazio F (1997) Brain activity during observation of actions. Influence of action content and subject’s strategy. Brain 120:1763–1777. doi: 10.1093/brain/120.10.1763 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. De Renzi E, Motti F, Nichelli P (1980) Imitating gestures: a quantitative approach to ideomotor apraxia. Arch Neurol 37:6–10PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Hall G (1991) Perceptual and associative learning. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  5. Heyes CM, Bird G, Johnson H, Haggard P (2005) Experience modulates automatic imitation. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res 22:233–240. doi: 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.09.009 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Heyes CM (2001) Causes and consequences of imitation. Trends Cogn Sci 5:253–261. doi: 10.1016/S1364-6613(00)01661-2 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Heyes CM, Ray E (2000) What is the significance of imitation in animals? Adv Stud Behav 29:215–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Press C, Gillmeister H, Heyes C (2007) Sensorimotor experience enhances automatic imitation of robotic action. Proc Biol Sci 274:2639–2644. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2007.0774 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Rothi LJG, Ochipa C, Heilman KM (1991) A cognitive neuropsychological model of limb praxis. Cogn Neuropsychol 8:443–458. doi: 10.1080/02643299108253382 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Rumiati RI, Tessari A (2002) Imitation of novel and well-known actions: the role of short-term memory. Exp Brain Res 142:425–433. doi: 10.1007/s00221-001-0956-x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Rumiati RI, Weiss PH, Tessari A, Assmus A, Zilles K, Herzog H, Fink GR (2005) Common and differential neural mechanisms supporting imitation of meaningful and meaningless actions. J Cogn Neurosci 17:1420–1431. doi: 10.1162/0898929054985374 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Tessari A, Bosanac D, Rumiati RI (2006) Effect of learning on imitation of new actions: implications for a memory model. Exp Brain Res 173:507–513. doi: 10.1007/s00221-006-0395-9 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Tessari A, Canessa N, Ukmar M, Rumiati RI (2007) Neuropsychological evidence for a strategic control of multiple routes in imitation. Brain 130:1111–1126. doi: 10.1093/brain/awm003 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Tessari A, Rumiati RI (2004) The strategic control of multiple routes in imitation of actions. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 30:1107–1116CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Toraldo A, Reverberi C, Rumiati RI (2001) Critical dimensions affecting imitation performance of patients with ideomotor apraxia. Cortex 37:737–740CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Vogt S, Thomaschke R (2007) From visuo–motor interactions to imitation learning: behavioural and brain imaging studies. J Sports Sci 25:497–517. doi: 10.1080/02640410600946779 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations