Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 237, Issue 2, pp 417–426 | Cite as

Mirror-hand selection is influenced by training perspective and model skill level in a motor-learning task

  • John J. BuchananEmail author
Research Article


This study examined mirror and non-mirror arm selection processes in an observational learning context. Observer groups watched either a novice (instruction or discovery) or skilled model performing a bimanual task with the right arm leading the left arm. The models were viewed from a third-person perspective. Observers of the skilled model more often selected a mirror-image (left-hand) hand-lead in post-observations tests, while observers of the novice models more often selected a non-mirror image (right hand) hand-lead in post-observation tests. This is a novel finding regarding arm selection processes in a learning context, yet it is consistent with imaging data that has revealed specific neural areas linked to the selection of mirror and non-mirror imitation processes for first- and third-person viewing perspectives. The skilled model also supported more accurate and stable performance of the bimanual task in observers compared to the instruction and novice models. It is concluded that a skilled model supports attention focus being directed at pattern analysis, while novice models support attention focus being allocated to strategy identification first, followed by pattern analysis.


Bimanual Lateralization Coordination dynamics Perception–action Instructions Relative phase 



The author would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for raising the issue of generalization and the encoding of the spatial and temporal characteristics of the bimanual task by the AON.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Perception-Action Dynamics Lab, Department of Health and KinesiologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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