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Description: The ability to understand others’ actions is a cornerstone of human culture. From early on in life, we are able to perceive other people’s actions as being directed toward goals rather than simply a combination of random movements. Based on this understanding, we predict goals of actions – both while producing them ourselves as well as when observing others performing an action. This active prediction of action goals allows us to prepare and adjust our answer to other people’s behaviour and implicit and explicit goals, and fosters the correct interpretation of intentions. According to previous work, the perception of our own and other people’s actions (action perception) is based on overlapping processing structures for perceptual and motor information. Therefore, in young healthy adults, action perception is largely informed by a person’s ability to produce these actions (action production) and vice versa. One important question within the field of social-cognitive development is how the interrelation between action perception and production changes across development. As of yet, it is still unclear whether action perception and production follow similar developmental trajectories or whether their interrelation differs across development. Therefore, this project aimed at describing the developmental trajectory of the interrelation of action perception and production across the adult life span. Furthermore, to obtain a comprehensive picture about age-related changes and their interrelations with a variety of other skills, we investigated additional factors - such as the participants’ motor abilities, their cognitive skills or oculomotor control abilities - which might contribute to and change the dynamics of action perception and production across the life span. The research aim of the current project was addressed by means of a short-term longitudinal study including three equally-spaced (every 6 months) measurement points (MPs). At each MP, participants’ action perception, their action production, their oculomotor skills as well as their fine- motor and cognitive skills were measured with different tasks. Action perception was measured through action prediction (predictive gaze shifts) using an eye-tracking system. We additionally introduced a new dependent measure of action perception and analysed participants’ gaze data with recurrence quantification analysis. This measure allows detecting recurrent patterns in participants’ gaze behaviour and to characterise their action perception in terms of its relative stability or instability over time. Action production was measured through the accuracy of imitation (e.g., Gampe Task, Flanagan Task) or the speed of action initiation and execution (reaction times; e.g., Brass Task). Initially N = 181 adults across a large age range (20 - 80 years) were recruited, N = 155 adults provided data for all three MPs. In addition, we recruited N = 74 children between the age of 3 and 16 to further enlarge the age span investigated. For a detailed descpription of tasks and measures see the following publications or contact the author of the project: Wermelinger, S., Gampe, A., & Daum, M. M. (2017). Higher levels of motor competence are associated with reduced interference in action perception across the lifespan. Psychological Research, 1-13. doi:10.1007/s00426-017-0941-z Wermelinger, S., Gampe, A., Behr, J., & Daum, M. M. (2018). Interference of action perception on action production increases across the adult life span. Experimental Brain Research, 236(2),577-586. doi: 10.1007/s00221-017-5157-3 Wermelinger, S., Gampe, A., & Daum, M. M. (2018). The dynamics of the interrelation of perception and action across the life span. Psychological Research, 1-16. doi: 10.1007/s00426-018-1058-8

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

Successful social interaction relies on the interaction partners’ perception, anticipation, and understanding of their respective actions. The percept...

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Perception and production across the life span

Successful social interaction relies on the interaction partners’ perception, anticipation, and understanding of others’ actions. The perception of a ...

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Interference of action perception on action production increases across the adult life-span

Action perception and action production are assumed to be based on an internal simulation process that involves the sensorimotor system. This system u...

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Higher levels of motor competence are associated with reduced interference in action perception across the lifespan

Action perception and action production are tightly linked and elicit bi-directional influences on each other when performed simultaneously. In this s...

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