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Anticipatory Synchronization

Coordinating one’s behaviors with those of another individual is fundamental to successful social interaction. Key to achieving such effortless and efficient interaction is being able to predict or anticipate the behaviors of other individuals. Research investigating the mechanisms that support behavioral anticipation has traditionally focused on hypotheses formulated to explain how the human nervous system compensates for the temporal delays that occur between the production of a movement and the perception of its outcome (i.e., feedback). However, recent research has found evidence to suggest that small perceptual-motor feedback delays may actually facilitate, rather than hinder, the ability of an individual to anticipate the seemingly unpredictable (and even chaotic) movements of other co-actors (Stepp, 2009; Washburn et al., 2015). Consistent with research examining the dynamics of coupled chaotic physical systems, such as electrical circuits (Voss, 2002) and coupled neurons (Toral et al., 2003), this counterintuitive phenomena has been termed self-organized anticipatory synchronization. Our ongoing research is directed towards understanding the role of anticipatory synchronization within the interpersonal coordination and the degree to which the anticipatory behavior that individuals engage in during every day social interaction can be explained and modeled using the same processes that underlie anticipatory synchronization in other complex dynamical systems (Washburn et al., 2015). We are also investigating whether the mechanisms that support self-organized anticipatory synchronization can be implemented within artificial/computer agents in order to create robotic systems that are capable of prospectively adapting to the aperiodic and unpredictable aspects of human motor behavior.


Relevant Publications:

Washburn, A., Kallen, R. W., Coey, C. A., Shockley, K., & Richardson, M. J. (2015, June 1). Harmony From Chaos? Perceptual-Motor Delays Enhance Behavioral Anticipation in Social Interaction. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

Washburn, A., Kallen, R. W., Coey, C. A., Shockley, K., & Richardson, M. J. (2015). Interpersonal Anticipatory Synchronization:The Facilitating Role of Short Visual-Motor Feedback Delays. In Noelle, D. C., Dale, R., Warlaumont, A. S., Yoshimi, J., Matlock, T., Jennings, C. D., & Maglio, P. P. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.