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    Congruency of eye movement metrics across motor simulation states: implications for motor (re)learning.

    McCormick, Sheree Ann (2014) Congruency of eye movement metrics across motor simulation states: implications for motor (re)learning. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This thesis contains a series of studies that report, for the first time, the congruence between physical, imagined and observed movement though a range of eye movement markers as a test of Jeannerod’s Simulation Theory (Jeannerod, 1994, 2001). First, the eye gaze metrics of healthy young individuals across all the action-related processes in a single paradigm is reported. The finding from this study suggested a temporal and spatial similarity between action execution (AE) and action observation (AO), and a spatial similarity between AE and motor imagery (MI). These findings suggest that AO could be used to simulate actions that involve a critical temporal element. Second, the influence of early ageing on gaze metrics was examined. The findings from this study indicated that whilst the profile of metrics for AE showed age-related decline, it was less evident in AO and MI although there was evidence of some age-related decline across all the three processes. Third, the influence of visual perspective on eye movements during movement simulation is reported. The data analysis in this study was novel and allowed, for the first time, eye gaze to be used to quantify MI and highlighted the importance of social gaze in AO and its absence in MI. Taken together, the finding that some eye metrics are preserved in more covert behaviours provides support for the efficacy of (re)learning optimal eye gaze strategies through AO- and MI-supported movement-based interventions for older adults with movement dysfunction. Therefore, in the final study, the development of a fully-integrated AE-AO-MI toolkit is reported. A new, App-based approach to the integration of movement simulation in rehabilitation is described in detail. Twenty years after he first proposed his Simulation Theory of MI the novel findings from this programme of work provide substantial support for the concept. This thesis highlights the advantage of using advanced eye gaze technology as an important marker to inform the on-going debate on the extent of the neural substrate sharedness as the central tenet to Simulation Theory. The findings of the studies will make an important impact on the use of simulation procedures for motor relearning.

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