The Complexity of Head Movement is Correlated with Learning about Affordances for Walking

Nicolette A. Peterson, Alen Hajnal, Jeffrey B. Wagman, Thomas A. Stoffregen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We asked whether the quantitative kinematics of standing postural activity might be related to short-term learning of affordances. Standing participants viewed a narrow path for 15 s, and then gave perceptual reports about the distance that they could walk along the path while wearing a weighted vest (novel affordance) or while not wearing the vest (familiar affordance). In a control condition, participants gave perceptual reports about egocentric distance along the path. During the 15 s viewing intervals, we measured the kinematics of head and torso movement as standing participants made a series of 12 perceptual reports. Perceptual reports improved across trials, but only in the condition in which participants were asked to perceive a novel affordance. The dynamical complexity of head movement changed across trials as participants gave perceptual reports about the novel affordance, but did not change systematically when perceiving a familiar affordance, or a non-affordance egocentric distance. We argue that the dynamical complexity of postural activity may have served an exploratory function supporting the learning of a novel affordance. Our results are consistent with the broader hypothesis that affordances are learned through active engagement with the environment, rather than (for example) through abstract cognitive processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-289
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Motor Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • affordance
  • exploratory movement
  • learning
  • perception
  • posture

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Clinical Study
  • Journal Article


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