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Leaders are made: Learning acquisition of consistent leader-follower relationships depends on implicit haptic interactions.

By Asuka Takai, Qiushi Fu, Yuzuru Doibata, Giuseppe Lisi, Toshiki Tsuchiya, Keivan Mojtahedi, Toshinori Yoshioka, Mitsuo Kawato, Jun Morimoto, Marco Santello

Posted 10 Dec 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.12.09.471486

Are leaders made or born? Leader-follower roles have been well characterized in social science, but they remain somewhat obscure in sensory-motor coordination. Furthermore, it is unknown how and why leader-follower relationships are acquired, including innate versus acquired controversies. We developed a novel asymmetrical coordination task in which two participants (dyad) need to collaborate in transporting a simulated beam while maintaining its horizontal attitude. This experimental paradigm was implemented by twin robotic manipulanda, simulated beam dynamics, haptic interactions, and a projection screen. Clear leader-follower relationships were learned despite participants not being informed that they were interacting with each other, but only when strong haptic feedback was introduced. For the first time, we demonstrate the emergence of consistent leader-follower relationships in sensory-motor coordination, and further show that haptic interaction is essential for dyadic co-adaptation. These results provide insights into neural mechanisms responsible for the formation of leader-follower relationships in our society.

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