KOSMOS Public Lecture: Marcel Brass (Ghent/Nijmegen)
There is strong evidence that action observation leads to an activation of an internal motor representation in the observer. Such shared representations of perception and action are assumed to form the basis for imitation, action understanding and mentalizing. However, when we represent other people’s behaviour in our own motor system is still poorly understood. Furthermore, the question arises how we can distinguish between our own motor intentions and externally triggered motor representations. In the first part of my talk, I will outline pre-conditions for shared representations. In the second part, I will review evidence for the important role of self-other distinction when observing other people’s behaviour. Furthermore, I will present evidence that self-other distinction is also crucial for social cognitive skills such as mentalizing and action understanding. These data call for a revision of the standard view on how shared representations are related to action understanding and metalizing.