The socio-motor interactions learning paradigm, a promising tool for rehabilitation protocol of social pathologies

Mr Mathieu GUEUGNONa, Dr Robin N. SALESSEa, Mr Zhong ZHAOa, Prof Benoît G BARDYa, Dr Ludovic MARINa

a Laboratoire Movement To Health, Euromov, Université de Montpellier

Introduction: In psychiatry, behavioral therapies do not focus on motor behaviors embedded in social interaction. Yet, it is well known that nonverbal motor behaviors play a fundamental role in the success of our interactions (Ramseyer & Tschacher, 2014). Several studies have previously shown that our motor behaviors of imitation (i.e. behavioural matching: BM) and of synchronization (i.e. temporal matching: TM) improve social competences such as affiliation between interactants or pro-social behaviors. However, no study has investigated theirs effects of the acquisition of motor competences. At both fundamental and clinical levels, it seems crucial to understand the mechanisms that underlie the acquisition and the improvement of socio-motor competences. We hypothesized a beneficial effect of theses “matching” on the acquisition of social and motor competences.

Methods: 48 dyads of healthy subjects were split in a two-by-two experimental design. They were asked to perform three sessions of a mirror game task. Between each session, participants performed an interpersonal motor coordination task in which BM and TM have been manipulated (BM : Similar or Dissimilar amplitude; TM : Easy or Difficult movements). Motor competences were evaluated by the accuracy and by the variety of movements performed in the mirror game tasks; and social competences by the affiliation score between participants evaluated before and after the experiment.

Results: The results showed that Similar groups and Easy groups improved their motor and social competences whereas Dissimilar groups and Difficult groups only improved their social competences. These results suggest that socio-motor competences could be improved and that BM and TM promote this acquisition. Consequently, the manipulation of motor behaviors of imitation and of synchronization seems relevant to foster the acquisition of theses competences. A complementary study, including patients suffering from schizophrenia, confirms our results showing the beneficial effect of this paradigm in social pathologies.

This study has been funded by the European project AlterEgo (Grant#600610).


Ramseyer F., & Tschacher, W. Nonverbal synchrony of head- and body-movement in psychotherapy: different signals have different associations with outcome. Front Psychol 2014;5:979. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00979

Keywords : coordination; social interaction; synchronization