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Joint action modulates motor system involvement during action observation in 3-year-olds.

Meyer M, Hunnius S, van Elk M, van Ede F, Bekkering H - Exp Brain Res (2011)

Bottom Line: We used a simple button-pressing game in which the two players acted in turns.Power in the mu- and beta-frequency bands was compared when children were not actively moving but observing the experimenter's actions when (1) they were engaged in the joint action game and (2) when they were not engaged.This motor system involvement might play an important role for children's joint action performance.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands. m.meyer@donders.ru.nl

ABSTRACT
When we are engaged in a joint action, we need to integrate our partner's actions with our own actions. Previous research has shown that in adults the involvement of one's own motor system is enhanced during observation of an action partner as compared to during observation of an individual actor. The aim of this study was to investigate whether similar motor system involvement is present at early stages of joint action development and whether it is related to joint action performance. In an EEG experiment with 3-year-old children, we assessed the children's brain activity and performance during a joint game with an adult experimenter. We used a simple button-pressing game in which the two players acted in turns. Power in the mu- and beta-frequency bands was compared when children were not actively moving but observing the experimenter's actions when (1) they were engaged in the joint action game and (2) when they were not engaged. Enhanced motor involvement during action observation as indicated by attenuated sensorimotor mu- and beta-power was found when the 3-year-olds were engaged in the joint action. This enhanced motor activation during action observation was associated with better joint action performance. The findings suggest that already in early childhood the motor system is differentially activated during action observation depending on the involvement in a joint action. This motor system involvement might play an important role for children's joint action performance.

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a Time-resolved normalized difference in power at electrode site C3. Power differences represent the contrast between the observation of Actor1’s actions when children were involved in the joint action and when they were not involved. At time 0, Actor1 pushed the button that moved up a cartoon figure on the screen. Before time 0, Actor1 moved her hand toward the button. After time 0, Actor1 moved her hand back to the resting position, while it is the child’s next turn in the joint action condition and Actor2’s next turn in the joint action observation condition. White boxes indicate the time–frequency windows of the effects for which we evaluated the correlation with joint action performance and the topography (see “Methods” and “Results”). b Correlation between the individual beta-power difference and the percentage of errors children made during the joint game. Each data point represents one child. c Topography of the normalized beta-power difference, including the data points marked by the white box. Power differences are displayed on seven electrodes (only electrodes were used that were sufficiently noise-free for all seven children)
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Fig2: a Time-resolved normalized difference in power at electrode site C3. Power differences represent the contrast between the observation of Actor1’s actions when children were involved in the joint action and when they were not involved. At time 0, Actor1 pushed the button that moved up a cartoon figure on the screen. Before time 0, Actor1 moved her hand toward the button. After time 0, Actor1 moved her hand back to the resting position, while it is the child’s next turn in the joint action condition and Actor2’s next turn in the joint action observation condition. White boxes indicate the time–frequency windows of the effects for which we evaluated the correlation with joint action performance and the topography (see “Methods” and “Results”). b Correlation between the individual beta-power difference and the percentage of errors children made during the joint game. Each data point represents one child. c Topography of the normalized beta-power difference, including the data points marked by the white box. Power differences are displayed on seven electrodes (only electrodes were used that were sufficiently noise-free for all seven children)

Mentions: A DFT filter2 was used to remove line noise from the data, and for each trial, we took out the offset by subtracting the mean signal of the entire trial. We then calculated time-resolved spectral power estimates using the Fourier transform in combination with a Hanning taper. For this, we used a 300-ms sliding time window that was advanced in steps of 50 ms. Power estimates were calculated for frequencies between 5 and 30 Hz. This resulted in time–frequency representations (TFRs) of the EEG data. We obtained separate TFRs for the joint action condition and the joint action observation condition. To contrast children’s brain response in these two conditions, we computed the normalized difference per time–frequency sample between the two conditions ([TFR Actor1 as joint partner—TFR Actor1 as partner of Actor2]/[TFR Actor1 as joint partner + TFR Actor1 as partner of Actor2]) (cf. van Ede et al. 2010). This normalized difference is illustrated in Fig. 2. The EEG data were locked to the button press of Actor1, which is denoted as zero. Hence, children observed Actor1 moving her hand toward the button from about −450 ms to 0. At zero, the button press of Actor1 made the frog on the screen move upward. In the period of 0–450 ms, children were preparing to press the button themselves in the joint action condition, while it was Actor2’s turn in the joint action observation condition. At the same time, Actor1 was placing her hand back on the resting position in front of the button.Fig. 2


Joint action modulates motor system involvement during action observation in 3-year-olds.

Meyer M, Hunnius S, van Elk M, van Ede F, Bekkering H - Exp Brain Res (2011)

a Time-resolved normalized difference in power at electrode site C3. Power differences represent the contrast between the observation of Actor1’s actions when children were involved in the joint action and when they were not involved. At time 0, Actor1 pushed the button that moved up a cartoon figure on the screen. Before time 0, Actor1 moved her hand toward the button. After time 0, Actor1 moved her hand back to the resting position, while it is the child’s next turn in the joint action condition and Actor2’s next turn in the joint action observation condition. White boxes indicate the time–frequency windows of the effects for which we evaluated the correlation with joint action performance and the topography (see “Methods” and “Results”). b Correlation between the individual beta-power difference and the percentage of errors children made during the joint game. Each data point represents one child. c Topography of the normalized beta-power difference, including the data points marked by the white box. Power differences are displayed on seven electrodes (only electrodes were used that were sufficiently noise-free for all seven children)
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3102188&req=5

Fig2: a Time-resolved normalized difference in power at electrode site C3. Power differences represent the contrast between the observation of Actor1’s actions when children were involved in the joint action and when they were not involved. At time 0, Actor1 pushed the button that moved up a cartoon figure on the screen. Before time 0, Actor1 moved her hand toward the button. After time 0, Actor1 moved her hand back to the resting position, while it is the child’s next turn in the joint action condition and Actor2’s next turn in the joint action observation condition. White boxes indicate the time–frequency windows of the effects for which we evaluated the correlation with joint action performance and the topography (see “Methods” and “Results”). b Correlation between the individual beta-power difference and the percentage of errors children made during the joint game. Each data point represents one child. c Topography of the normalized beta-power difference, including the data points marked by the white box. Power differences are displayed on seven electrodes (only electrodes were used that were sufficiently noise-free for all seven children)
Mentions: A DFT filter2 was used to remove line noise from the data, and for each trial, we took out the offset by subtracting the mean signal of the entire trial. We then calculated time-resolved spectral power estimates using the Fourier transform in combination with a Hanning taper. For this, we used a 300-ms sliding time window that was advanced in steps of 50 ms. Power estimates were calculated for frequencies between 5 and 30 Hz. This resulted in time–frequency representations (TFRs) of the EEG data. We obtained separate TFRs for the joint action condition and the joint action observation condition. To contrast children’s brain response in these two conditions, we computed the normalized difference per time–frequency sample between the two conditions ([TFR Actor1 as joint partner—TFR Actor1 as partner of Actor2]/[TFR Actor1 as joint partner + TFR Actor1 as partner of Actor2]) (cf. van Ede et al. 2010). This normalized difference is illustrated in Fig. 2. The EEG data were locked to the button press of Actor1, which is denoted as zero. Hence, children observed Actor1 moving her hand toward the button from about −450 ms to 0. At zero, the button press of Actor1 made the frog on the screen move upward. In the period of 0–450 ms, children were preparing to press the button themselves in the joint action condition, while it was Actor2’s turn in the joint action observation condition. At the same time, Actor1 was placing her hand back on the resting position in front of the button.Fig. 2

Bottom Line: We used a simple button-pressing game in which the two players acted in turns.Power in the mu- and beta-frequency bands was compared when children were not actively moving but observing the experimenter's actions when (1) they were engaged in the joint action game and (2) when they were not engaged.This motor system involvement might play an important role for children's joint action performance.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, P.O. Box 9104, 6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands. m.meyer@donders.ru.nl

ABSTRACT
When we are engaged in a joint action, we need to integrate our partner's actions with our own actions. Previous research has shown that in adults the involvement of one's own motor system is enhanced during observation of an action partner as compared to during observation of an individual actor. The aim of this study was to investigate whether similar motor system involvement is present at early stages of joint action development and whether it is related to joint action performance. In an EEG experiment with 3-year-old children, we assessed the children's brain activity and performance during a joint game with an adult experimenter. We used a simple button-pressing game in which the two players acted in turns. Power in the mu- and beta-frequency bands was compared when children were not actively moving but observing the experimenter's actions when (1) they were engaged in the joint action game and (2) when they were not engaged. Enhanced motor involvement during action observation as indicated by attenuated sensorimotor mu- and beta-power was found when the 3-year-olds were engaged in the joint action. This enhanced motor activation during action observation was associated with better joint action performance. The findings suggest that already in early childhood the motor system is differentially activated during action observation depending on the involvement in a joint action. This motor system involvement might play an important role for children's joint action performance.

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