The neural correlates of automatic imitation

Schroeder, Victoria (2019). The neural correlates of automatic imitation. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The studies in this thesis examine whether humans have developed a specialized neural network to process biological stimuli. It is known that humans imitate and that such non- verbal behaviour is important for social well-being. However, since decades it has been an endeavour to answer the question whether imitation is an innate behaviour, which has evolved through natural selection or whether imitation is learned by experience throughout the lifespan. The present thesis includes four behavioural and two imaging studies, which are aimed at answering this question. This is done by comparing the automatic tendency to imitate (biological stimulusresponse mappings) with non-biological stimulus-response mappings. The behavioural studies revealed very similar effects for biological and non- biological stimuli. In both cases, the responses were depending in the experimental tasks, which suggested that spatial and biological stimuli were processed alike. However, the imaging studies revealed different neural networks for the processing of biological and spatial cues. Whereas, the former evoked activity in mirror neuron areas, the latter elicited activity in areas associated with cognitive and response control. The studies therefore suggest that biological and non-biological S-R mappings do affect behaviour similarly but that the underlying neural networks differ.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)


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