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Curr Biol. 2006 Jan 10;16(1):69-74.

Nonvisual motor training influences biological motion perception.

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Laboratory for Action Representation and Learning, Department of Cognitive Neurology, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University Clinic Tübingen, Schaffhausenstr. 113, D-72072 Tübingen, Germany.


Experimental evidence suggests a link between perception and the execution of actions . In particular, it has been proposed that motor programs might directly influence visual action perception . According to this hypothesis, the acquisition of novel motor behaviors should improve their visual recognition, even in the absence of visual learning. We tested this prediction by using a new experimental paradigm that dissociates visual and motor learning during the acquisition of novel motor patterns. The visual recognition of gait patterns from point-light stimuli was assessed before and after nonvisual motor training. During this training, subjects were blindfolded and learned a novel coordinated upper-body movement based only on verbal and haptic feedback. The learned movement matched one of the visual test patterns. Despite the absence of visual stimulation during training, we observed a selective improvement of the visual recognition performance for the learned movement. Furthermore, visual recognition performance after training correlated strongly with the accuracy of the execution of the learned motor pattern. These results prove, for the first time, that motor learning has a direct and highly selective influence on visual action recognition that is not mediated by visual learning.

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