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Miles Martinez, Tony Wang, Joo-Hyun Song; Effects of Observation on Visuomotor Generalization. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):219c. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.219c.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Our ability to learn and generalize new motor skills (e.g. driving) is a fundamental aspect of human behavior and is often critical for daily function. Prior work has demonstrated that in addition to physical practice, observation of others can facilitate acquisition of novel motor skills. Here, we examined if and how the benefits of observational learning extend to transferring acquired motor skills to novel contexts using a visuomotor adaptation task. In an initial observation phase, participants watched a short movie in which an actor demonstrated one of two visuomotor actions. The rotation group observed the actor adapting to a cursor rotated 45° from their hand movement, whereas the no-rotation group watched videos without any cursor rotation. In the subsequent training phase, each participant adapted to a 45° rotation of the cursor to the same target as the actor in the video. In the final generalization phase, participants attempted to transfer their motor adaptation to untrained target locations. The rotation group showed improved generalization of their visuomotor adaptation compared to the no-rotation group at both trained and untrained target locations. We further demonstrated that observation of rotation allowed participants to develop a stronger aiming strategy. Taken together, we suggest that observational learning facilitates explicit strategy formation, leading to an overall enhancement of visuomotor generalization.
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