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Noy, L., Weiser, N., & Friedman, J. (2017). Synchrony in Joint Action Is Directed by Each Participant's Motor Control System. Front. Psychol., 8, 531.
Abstract: In this work, we ask how the probability of achieving synchrony in joint action is affected by the choice of motion parameters of each individual. We use the mirror game paradigm to study how changes in leader�s motion parameters, specifically frequency and peak velocity, affect the probability of entering the state of co-confidence (CC) motion: a dyadic state of synchronized, smooth and co-predictive motions. In order to systematically study this question, we used a one-person version of the mirror game, where the participant mirrored piece-wise rhythmic movements produced by a computer on a graphics tablet. We systematically varied the frequency and peak velocity of the movements to determine how these parameters affect the likelihood of synchronized joint action. To assess synchrony in the mirror game we used the previously developed marker of co-confident (CC) motions: smooth, jitter-less and synchronized motions indicative of co-predicative control. We found that when mirroring movements with low frequencies (i.e., long duration movements), the participants never showed CC, and as the frequency of the stimuli increased, the probability of observing CC also increased. This finding is discussed in the framework of motor control studies showing an upper limit on the duration of smooth motion. We confirmed the relationship between motion parameters and the probability to perform CC with three sets of data of open-ended two-player mirror games. These findings demonstrate that when performing movements together, there are optimal movement frequencies to use in order to maximize the possibility of entering a state of synchronized joint action. It also shows that the ability to perform synchronized joint action is constrained by the properties of our motor control systems.