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The dynamics of the interrelation of perception and action across the life span

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Wermelinger Stephanie, Gampe Anja, Daum Moritz M.,
Project The interrelation of action perception and action production across the life span
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Psychological Research
Page(s) 1 - 16
Title of proceedings Psychological Research
DOI 10.1007/s00426-018-1058-8


Successful social interaction relies on the interaction partners’ perception, anticipation and understanding of their respective actions. The perception of a particular action and the capability to produce this action share a common representational ground. So far, no study has explored the interrelation between action perception and production across the life span using the same tasks and the same measurement techniques. This study was designed to fill this gap. Participants between 3 and 80 years (N = 214) observed two multistep actions of different familiarities and then reproduced the according actions. Using eye tracking, we measured participants’ action perception via their prediction of action goals during observation. To capture subtler perceptual processes, we additionally analysed the dynamics and recurrent patterns within participants’ gaze behaviour. Action production was assessed via the accuracy of the participants’ reproduction of the observed actions. No age-related differences were found for the perception of the familiar action, where participants of all ages could rely on previous experience. In the unfamiliar action, where participants had less experience, action goals were predicted more frequently with increasing age. The recurrence in participants’ gaze behaviour was related to both, age and action production: gaze behaviour was more recurrent (i.e. less flexible) in very young and very old participants, and lower levels of recurrence (i.e. greater flexibility) were related to higher scores in action production across participants. Incorporating a life-span perspective, this study illustrates the dynamic nature of developmental differences in the associations of action production with action perception.