Design of a virtual player for joint improvisation with humans in the mirror game

Chao Zhai, Francesco Alderisio, Piotr Słowiński, Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, Mario di Bernardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Joint improvisation is often observed among humans performing joint action tasks. Exploring the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms behind the emergence of joint improvisation is an open research challenge. This paper investigates jointly improvised movements between two participants in the mirror game, a paradigmatic joint task example. First, experiments involving movement coordination of different dyads of human players are performed in order to build a human benchmark. No designation of leader and follower is given beforehand. We find that joint improvisation is characterized by the lack of a leader and high levels of movement synchronization. Then, a theoretical model is proposed to capture some features of their interaction, and a set of experiments is carried out to test and validate the model ability to reproduce the experimental observations. Furthermore, the model is used to drive a computer avatar able to successfully improvise joint motion with a human participant in real time. Finally, a convergence analysis of the proposed model is carried out to confirm its ability to reproduce joint movements between the participants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0154361
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


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