Automatic and Controlled Processing within the Mirror Neuron System

Chong, Trevor T.-J. and Mattingley, Jason B. (2009). Automatic and Controlled Processing within the Mirror Neuron System. In Jaime A. Pineda (Ed.), Mirror Neuron Systems: The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition (pp. 213-233) New York, NY 10013, USA: Humana Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-59745-479-7_10

Author Chong, Trevor T.-J.
Mattingley, Jason B.
Title of chapter Automatic and Controlled Processing within the Mirror Neuron System
Title of book Mirror Neuron Systems: The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition
Place of Publication New York, NY 10013, USA
Publisher Humana Press
Publication Year 2009
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
DOI 10.1007/978-1-59745-479-7_10
Year available 2009
Series Handbook of Environmental Engineering
ISBN 978-1-934115-34-3
Editor Jaime A. Pineda
Chapter number 10
Start page 213
End page 233
Total pages 21
Total chapters 16
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subjects B1
170112 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance
970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract/Summary The human ability to recognize the actions and gestures of others is fundamental to communication and social perception. Evidence suggests that this ability is supported by the mirror neuron system, the primary function of which is to mentally simulate a perceived action in the observer’s own motor system. Traditionally, the processing that occurs within this network is considered to be automatic and stimulus-driven, but neurophysiological data from macaques suggest that even the activity of single mirror neuron units maybe modulated by attention and context. Similarly, in humans, there is a growing body of evidence to indicate that the mirror system is also vulnerable to top-down processes such as cognitive strategy, learned associations and selective attention. In this chapter, we review the evidence that indicates observed actions are processed automatically, and contrast these data with those that indicate a susceptibility of action processing to top-down factors. We suggest that the assumption that observed actions are processed involuntarily arose largely because most studies have not explicitly challenged the automaticity of the visuomotor transformation process. The frontoparietal mirror system should therefore be viewed in the context of a larger network of areas involved in action observation and social cognition, whose activity may mutually inform and be informed by the mirror system itself. Such reciprocal connections maybe critical in guiding ongoing behavior by allowing the mirror system to adapt to concurrent task demands and inhibit the processing of task-irrelevant gestures.
Keyword Automaticity
Selective attention
Cognitive strategy
Prior exposure
Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

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Created: Thu, 08 Apr 2010, 10:41:25 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology