Effects of agency on movement interference during observation of a moving dot stimulus

James Stanley, Emma Gowen, Rowland Miall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

104 Citations (Scopus)


Human movement performance is subject to interference if the performer simultaneously observes an incongruent action. It has been proposed that this phenomenon is due to motor contagion during simultaneous movement performance- observation, with coactivation of shared action performance and action observation circuitry in the premotor cortex. The present experiments compared the interference effect during observation of a moving person with observation of moving dot stimuli: The dot display followed either a biologically plausible or implausible velocity profile. Interference effects due to dot observation were present for both biological and nonbiological velocity profiles when the participants were informed that they were observing prerecorded human movement and were absent when the dot motion was described as computer generated. These results suggest that the observer's belief regarding the origin of the dot motion (human- computer generated) modulates the processing of the dot movement stimuli on their later integration within the motor system, such that the belief regarding their biological origin is a more important determinant of interference effects than the stimulus kinematics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-926
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • action observation
  • biological motion
  • mirror neurons


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