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Mirror neurons: the basis of social learning and cognition

Objective

One of the building blocks of social behavior is the understanding the intentions, actions and emotions of others. Groundbreaking work of Rizzolatti and colleagues (e.g. Rizzolatti et al., 1996; Rizzolatti & Arbib, 1998; Rizzolatti et al., 2001; Galles e et al. 2004) designated the importance of the activation of so-called mirror neurons as a way to understand the intentions, actions and emotions of others.

These neurons, located primarily in the ventral premotor area of the brain, are activated not only when performing an action oneself, but also while observing someone else perform that action. What has not yet been explored is whether humans learn based solely on their own errors or are we also able to learn based on errors of others, and how this might be accomplished?

The proposed research will explore changes in the observer's own behaviour elicited by observing erroneous actions or actions with negative consequences and using state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques (fMRI, ERP, MEG) examine whether these changes are accomplished through functional connections between the action outcome monitoring system and the mirror neuron system for action representation.

Results of this research will have significant implications for the issues of learning in social situations, interactions between people, learning social rules, and possibly understanding deficits in social behaviour (for example, autism).

As a cognitive psychologist I believe that I can apply my strong expertise in conducting research in visual attention and eye movements to answering questions about social learning and interactions.

During this project I expect to become an expert in the brand new and exciting area of social neuroscience, to learn state-of-the-art brain imaging techniques that allow exploring the brain mechanisms of social cognition.

Call for proposal

FP6-2005-MOBILITY-7
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

IIF - Marie Curie actions-Incoming International Fellowships

Coordinator

VERENIGING VOOR CHRISTELIJK HOGER ONDERWIJS, WETENSCHAPPELIJK ONDERZOEK EN PATIENTENZORG / VERENIGING VU-WINDESHEIM
Address
De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam
Netherlands