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Two heads are better than one: both complementary and synchronous strategies facilitate joint action.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Neurophysiology
1522-1598
Publisher
American Physiological Society
Publication Date
Volume
109
Issue
5
Pages
1307–1314
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1152/jn.00776.2012
PMID: 23221416
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

If two people lift and carry an object, they not only produce complementary forces on the object but also walk in synchrony. Previous studies have not examined how two types of coordination strategy are adopted simultaneously. The present study thus tested the hypothesis that complementary and synchronous strategies simultaneously facilitate the action coordination performed by two people. Ten pairs of participants produced periodic isometric forces such that the sum of forces they produced was the target force cycling between 5% and 10% of maximum voluntary contraction with an interval of 1,000 ms (joint action), while individuals alone produced the same target forces with the right hand (individual action). The correlation between forces produced by two participants was highly negative when the total force was visible, indicating that the two participants produced complementary forces. When the image of the total or partner force was presented, the coherence between force-time series produced by two participants was highest at 1 Hz. The relative phase angles were also distributed at the 0-20° phase region. These innovative findings indicate that two participants simultaneously adopted both complementary and temporal synchronous strategies exclusively when the total force was visible. With the vision of total force, surprisingly, while the joint action exhibited a less variable force than the individual action, the joint action exhibited a smaller absolute error of forces than the individual action. These new findings indicated that the joint action controlled force more accurately than the individual action.

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