abstract Hein van Schie

Hein van Schie (Radboud University Nijmegen, Behavioural Science Institute)

Understanding joint action beyond imitation: How does the Human Mirror Neuron System contribute to Joint Action?

A hallmark property of mirror neurons is that they support motor resonance, a sub-threshold tendency to imitate observed movements. These automatic tendencies to imitate could form an obstacle to success in cooperative action where co-actors need to select opposite responses. Instead, day-to-day experience tells us that people are remarkably efficient and fluent in cooperating with other persons, and easily select actions to be complementary to the behavior of others. A series of three consecutive experiments will be presented that investigated the role of the mirror neuron system (MNS) in joint action using respectively reaction times, functional neuroimaging, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Outcomes indicate that automatic tendencies for imitation originate from spatial congruency (i.e. Simon) effects through activation in the MNS. In addition, we find that automatic spatial congruency effects can be overruled by contextual associations (e.g. inter-individual task relationships) via activation in (motor and goal) areas outside of the MNS.