Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 643–650 | Cite as

A safety mechanism for observational learning

Brief Report


This empirical article presents the first evidence of a “safety mechanism” based on an observational-learning paradigm. It is accepted that during observational learning, a person can use different strategies to learn a motor skill, but it is unknown whether the learner is able to circumvent the encoding of an uncompleted observed skill. In this study, participants were tested in a dyadic protocol in which an observer watched a participant practicing two different motor sequences during a learning phase. During this phase, one of the two motor sequences was interrupted by a stop signal that precluded motor learning. The results of the subsequent retention test revealed that both groups learned the two motor sequences, but only the physical practice group showed worse performance for the interrupted sequence. The observers were consequently able to use a safety strategy to learn both sequences equally. Our findings are discussed in light of the implications of the action observation network for sequence learning and the cognitive mechanisms of error-based observation.


Motor sequence Observational learning Learning strategy 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnaud Badets
    • 1
  • Arnaud Boutin
    • 2
    • 3
  • Thomas Michelet
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.CNRS, Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d’Aquitaine (UMR 5287)Université de BordeauxBordeauxFrance
  2. 2.Unité de Neuroimagerie FonctionnelleC.R.I.U.G.M.MontréalCanada
  3. 3.Université de MontréalMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Institut des Maladies NeurodégénérativesUniversité de BordeauxBordeauxFrance
  5. 5.Institut des Maladies NeurodégénérativesCNRSBordeauxFrance

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