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The role of the motor system in action perception

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Successful human social interactions depend upon the transmission of verbal and non-verbal signals from one individual to another. Non-verbal social communication is realized through our ability to read and understand other people’s actions. It has been proposed that employing the same motor programs we use to execute an action when observing the same action underlies this action understanding. The most well known example of this are mirror neurons. Ever since their discovery, it has been proposed that mirror-neurons, and motor system activity during action observation more generally, underlie our ability to ‘understand’ actions. However, despite decades of research there is still much debate about this proposed role of the motor-system in action perception. I will argue that many of the differences in scientific opinion regarding mirror neuron function can be resolved when action perception is framed within a predictive coding framework and present data from experiments that have tested this framework.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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