The Coordination Dynamics of Observational Learning: Relative Motion Direction and Relative Phase as Informational Content Linking Action-Perception to Action-Production. Chapter uri icon


  • The primary goal of this chapter is to merge together the visual perception perspective of observational learning and the coordination dynamics theory of pattern formation in perception and action. Emphasis is placed on identifying movement features that constrain and inform action-perception and action-production processes. Two sources of visual information are examined, relative motion direction and relative phase. The visual perception perspective states that the topological features of relative motion between limbs and joints remains invariant across an actor's motion and therefore are available for pickup by an observer. Relative phase has been put forth as an informational variable that links perception to action within the coordination dynamics theory. A primary assumption of the coordination dynamics approach is that environmental information is meaningful only in terms of the behavior it modifies. Across a series of single limb tasks and bimanual tasks it is shown that the relative motion and relative phase between limbs and joints is picked up through visual processes and supports observational learning of motor skills. Moreover, internal estimations of motor skill proficiency and competency are linked to the informational content found in relative motion and relative phase. Thus, the chapter links action to perception and vice versa and also links cognitive evaluations to the coordination dynamics that support action-perception and action-production processes.

author list (cited authors)

  • Buchanan, J. J.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Buchanan, John J

Book Title


publication date

  • January 2016