A neuro-mechanical model for interpersonal coordination

Aymar de Rugy, Robin Salesse, Olivier Oullier, Jean-Jacques Temprado
Biol Cybern. 2006-03-09; 94(6): 427-443
DOI: 10.1007/s00422-006-0059-7

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1. Biol Cybern. 2006 Jun;94(6):427-43. Epub 2006 Mar 9.

A neuro-mechanical model for interpersonal coordination.

de Rugy A(1), Salesse R, Oullier O, Temprado JJ.

Author information:
(1)Perception and Motor Systems Laboratory, School of Human Movement Studies,
University of Queensland, Room 424, Building 26, St Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia.

The present study investigates the coordination between two people oscillating
handheld pendulums, with a special emphasis on the influence of the mechanical
properties of the effector systems involved. The first part of the study is an
experiment in which eight pairs of participants are asked to coordinate the
oscillation of their pendulum with the other participant’s in an in-phase or
antiphase fashion. Two types of pendulums, A and B, having different resonance
frequencies (Freq A=0.98 Hz and Freq B=0.64 Hz), were used in different
experimental combinations. Results confirm that the preferred frequencies
produced by participants while manipulating each pendulum individually were close
to the resonance frequencies of the pendulums. In their attempt to synchronize
with one another, participants met at common frequencies that were influenced by
the mechanical properties of the two pendulums involved. In agreement with
previous studies, both the variability of the behavior and the shift in the
intended relative phase were found to depend on the task-effector asymmetry,
i.e., the difference between the mechanical properties of the effector systems
involved. In the second part of the study, we propose a model to account for
these results. The model consists of two cross-coupled neuro-mechanical units,
each composed of a neural oscillator driving a wrist-pendulum system. Taken
individually, each unit reproduced the natural tendency of the participants to
freely oscillate a pendulum close to its resonance frequency. When cross-coupled
through the vision of the pendulum of the other unit, the two units entrain each
other and meet at a common frequency influenced by the mechanical properties of
the two pendulums involved. The ability of the proposed model to address the
other effects observed as a function of the different conditions of the pendulum
and intended mode of coordination is discussed.

DOI: 10.1007/s00422-006-0059-7
PMID: 16525852 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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