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Journal Article


Fantoni C, Rigutti S, Piccoli V, Sommacal E, Carnaghi A. PLoS One 2016; 11(6): e0158095.


Department of Life Sciences, Psychology Unit "Gaetano Kanizsa", University of Trieste, Via Weiss 21, 34128, Trieste, Italy.


(Copyright © 2016, Public Library of Science)






Ample evidence attests that social intention, elicited through gestures explicitly signaling a request of communicative intention, affects the patterning of hand movement kinematics. The current study goes beyond the effect of social intention and addresses whether the same action of reaching to grasp an object for placing it in an end target position within or without a monitoring attendee's peripersonal space, can be moulded by pure social factors in general, and by social facilitation in particular. A motion tracking system (Optotrak Certus) was used to record motor acts. We carefully avoided the usage of communicative intention by keeping constant both the visual information and the positional uncertainty of the end target position, while we systematically varied the social status of the attendee (a high, or a low social status) in separated blocks. Only thirty acts performed in the presence of a different social status attendee, revealed a significant change of kinematic parameterization of hand movement, independently of the attendee's distance. The amplitude of peak velocity reached by the hand during the reach-to-grasp and the lift-to-place phase of the movement was larger in the high rather than in the low social status condition. By contrast, the deceleration time of the reach-to-grasp phase and the maximum grasp aperture was smaller in the high rather than in the low social status condition. These results indicated that the hand movement was faster but less carefully shaped in presence of a high, but not of a low social status attendee. This kinematic patterning suggests that being monitored by a high rather than a low social status attendee might lead participants to experience evaluation apprehension that informs the control of motor execution. Motor execution would rely more on feedforward motor control in the presence of a high social status human attendee, vs. feedback motor control, in the presence of a low social status attendee.

Language: en


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