Tilting Together: An information-theoretic characterisation of behavioural roles in rhythmic dyadic interaction

Dari Trendafilov, Gerd Schmitz, Tong-Hun Hwang, Alfred O. Effenberg, Daniel Polani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Every joint collaborative physical activity performed by a group of people, e.g., carrying a table, typically leads to the emergence of spatiotemporal coordination of individual motor behavior. Such interpersonal coordination can arise solely based on the observation of the partners’ and/or the object’s movements, without the presence of verbal communication. In this paper, we investigate how the social coupling between two individuals in a collaborative task translates into measured objective and subjective performance indicators recorded in two different studies. We analyse the trends in the dyadic interrelationship based on the information-theoretic measure of transfer entropy and identify emerging leader-follower roles. In our experimental paradigm, the actions of the pair of subjects are continuously and seamlessly fused, resulting in a joint control of an object simulated on a tablet computer. Subjects need to synchronize their movements with a 90-degree phase difference in order to keep the object (a ball) rotating precisely on a predefined circular or elliptic trajectory on a tablet device. Results demonstrate how the identification of causal dependencies in this social interaction task could reveal specific trends in human behavior and provide insights into the emergence of social sensorimotor contingencies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number185
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2020


  • causality
  • collaborative interaction
  • information theory
  • interpersonal coordination
  • sensorimotor contingencies
  • social interaction
  • transfer entropy


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