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Control of imitation and social cognition: the interaction of motor mirroring and Theory of Mind (MIRRORING AND TOM)
Date du début: 1 janv. 2014, Date de fin: 31 déc. 2015 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

"Recent work based on ideomotor theory and the discovery of the mirror neuron system has suggested that the observation of an action is associated with the activation of the corresponding motor representation in the observer. In accordance with this hypothesis it has been demonstrated that observing an action interferes with one’s own actions when these are different from those being observed. This, however, raises the question how we avoid automatic imitation? More specifically, how can we distinguish the motor program activated by our intention from that triggered by observation? Recent neuroimaging studies have revealed that the control of automatic imitative responses leads to activation in the anterior medial prefrontal cortex and the temporo-parietal junction. These areas are core regions of a network involved in higher-order abilities in social cognition, such as mentalizing (i.e., the ability to reflect on other people’s mental states). Based on such brain imaging results, it has been hypothesized that the control of shared representations draws on the interaction between these ""social"" brain regions and the mirror system. The proposed study aims to understand how high-level cognitive functions and motor mirroring interact at a neural level in the control of imitative behaviour and to explore the functional overlap between the control of shared representations and implicit forms of mentalizing. The research place itself at the interface between the research on motor control and social neuroscience and wants to integrate knowledge developed in different domains. With these objectives in mind, the applicant will conduct a series of studies by combining different methodological approaches and techniques, such as brain stimulation techniques and neuroimaging, and use state-of-the-art computational tools, such as multi-voxel pattern analysis to analyze neuroimaging data."