Observation of human actions influences the observer's own motor system, termed visuomotor priming, and is believed to be caused by automatic activation of mirror neurons. Evidence suggests that priming effects are larger for biological (human) as opposed to non-biological (object) stimuli and enhanced when viewing stimuli in mirror compared to anatomical orientation. However, there is conflicting evidence concerning the extent of differences between biological and non-biological stimuli, which may be due to stimulus related confounds. Over three experiments, we compared how visuomotor priming for biological and non-biological stimuli was affected over views, over time and when attention to the moving stimulus was manipulated. The results indicated that the strength of priming for the two stimulus types was dependent on attentional location and load. This highlights that visuomotor priming is not an automatic process and provides a possible explanation for conflicting evidence regarding the differential effects of biological and non-biological stimuli. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
- Automatic imitation
- Mirror neurons
- Stimulus response compatibility
- Visuomotor priming