Imitation and the developing social brain: infants’ somatotopic EEG patterns for acts of self and other
PDF

Keywords

Infant
brain
EEG
imitation
neural mirroring
mu rhythm
social cognition
intersubjectivity.

How to Cite

J. Marshall, P., N. Saby, J., & N. Meltzoff, A. (2013). Imitation and the developing social brain: infants’ somatotopic EEG patterns for acts of self and other. International Journal of Psychological Research, 6, 22–29. https://doi.org/10.21500/20112084.714

Abstract

A leading question in developmental social-cognitive neuroscience concerns the nature and function of neural links between action perception and production in early human development. Here we document a somatotopic pattern of activity of the sensorimotor EEG mu rhythm in 14-month-old infants. EEG was recorded during interactive trials in which infants activated a novel object using their own hands or feet (“execution” trials) and watched an experimenter use her hands or feet to achieve the same goal (“observation” trials). At central electrodes overlying sensorimotor hand areas (C3/C4), mu rhythm power was reduced (indicating greater cortical activation) during infants’ execution of hand acts compared to foot acts. For the central electrode overlying the sensorimotor foot area (Cz), mu power was reduced during the execution of foot versus hand acts. Strikingly similar somatotopic patterns were found in both the action execution and observation conditions. We hypothesize that these somatotopic patterns index an intercorporeal mapping of corresponding body parts between self and other. We further propose that infants’ ability to identify self-other equivalences at the level of body parts underlies infant imitation and is an ontogenetic building block for the feelings of intersubjectivity we experience when socially engaged with other people.
https://doi.org/10.21500/20112084.714
PDF

References

Blakemore, S. J., Bristow, D., Bird, G., Frith, C., & Ward, J. (2005). Somatosensory activations during the observation of touch and a case of vision-touch synaesthesia. Brain, 128, 1571-1583.

Bråten, S. (1998). Intersubjective communication and emotion in early ontogeny. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Bruner, J. S. (1975). From communication to language- A psychological perspective. Cognition, 3, 255-287.

Buccino, G., Binkofski, F., Fink, G. R., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., Gallese, V., ... Freund, H. J. (2001). Action observation activates premotor and parietal areas in a somatotopic manner: an fMRI study. European Journal of Neuroscience, 13, 400-404.

de Haan, M. (Ed.). (2007). Infant EEG and event-related potentials. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Delorme, A., & Makeig, S. (2004). EEGLAB: An open source toolbox for analysis of single-trial EEG dynamics including independent component analysis. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 134, 9-21.

Hari, R., & Kujala, M. V. (2009). Brain basis of human social interaction: From concepts to brain imaging. Physiological Reviews, 89, 453-479.

The work that is sent to this journal must be original, not published or sent to be published elsewhere; and if it is accepted for publication, authors will agree to transfer copyright to International Journal of Psychological Research. 

To give up copyright, the authors allow that, International Journal of Psychological Research, distribute the work more broadly, check for the reuse by others and take care of the necessary procedures for the registration and administration of copyright; at the same time, our editorial board represents the interests of the author and allows authors to re-use his work in various forms. In response to the above, authors transfer copyright to the journal, International Journal of Psychological Research. This transfer does not imply other rights which are not those of authorship (for example those that concern about patents). Likewise, preserves the authors rights to use the work integral or partially in lectures, books and courses, as well as make copies for educational purposes. Finally, the authors may use freely the tables and figures in its future work, wherever make explicit reference to the previous publication in International Journal of Psychological Research. The assignment of copyright includes both virtual rights and forms of the article to allow the editorial to disseminate the work in the manner which it deems appropriate. 

The editorial board reserves the right of amendments deemed necessary in the application of the rules of publication.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.