Perceptual Estimates of Motor Skill Proficiency Are Constrained by the Stability of Coordination Patterns
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This study demonstrated that motor skill proficiency ratings are constrained by the same order parameter dynamics that constrain action production and action perception processes. Participants produced rhythmic actions simulated by an animated stick figure of the human arm. The primary finding was that participants' proficiency ratings covaried most with relative phase (φ) variability compared to mean relative phase. In-phase (φ = 0°) was produced with the least variability and received the highest proficiency rating, whereas the patterns φ = ±150° were attempted with the most variability and received the lowest proficiency ratings. A temporal delay in attempting to produce the animated pattern had a large impact on produced relative phase, yet had little impact on the proficiency ratings. Proprioceptive processes provide individuals information on motor skill proficiency. The lead or lag motion of the hand to forearm segment of the animated arm was identified consistently through visual processes and revealed asymmetries in the mapping of visual input to motor output. The results are consistent with concepts from the dynamic pattern theory of coordination and are discussed with regard to relative phase as an informational variable that constraints the perception-action system across many levels.
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