Hand to mouth: automatic imitation across effector systems.
Leighton J., Heyes C.
The effector dependence of automatic imitation was investigated using a stimulus-response compatibility (SRC) procedure during which participants were required to make an open or closed response with their hand or their mouth. The correct response for each trial was indicated by a pair of letters in Experiments 1 and 2 and by a colored square in Experiment 3. Each of these imperative stimuli was accompanied by task-irrelevant action images depicting a hand or mouth opening or closing. In relation to the response, the irrelevant stimulus was movement compatible or movement incompatible, and effector compatible or effector incompatible. A movement compatibility effect was observed for both hand and mouth responses. These movement compatibility effects were present when the irrelevant stimulus was effector compatible and when it was effector incompatible, but were smaller when the irrelevant stimulus and response effectors were incompatible. Consistent with the associative sequence learning (ASL) model of imitation, these findings indicate that automatic imitation is partially effector dependent and therefore that the effector dependence of intentional imitation reflects, at least in part, the nature of the mechanisms that mediate visuomotor translation for imitation.