Interplay of self-other distinction and cognitive control mechanisms in a social automatic imitation task: An ERP study

Birgit Rauchbauer, C. Lorenz, Claus Lamm, Daniela Pfabigan

The regulation of motor resonance processes in daily life is indispensable. The automatic imitation task is an experimental model of those daily-life motor resonance processes. Recent research suggests that both self-other distinction and cognitive control processes may be involved in interference control during automatic imitation. Yet, we lack a clear understanding of the chronological sequence of interacting processes. To this end, this study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate the time course underlying interference control during automatic imitation. We moreover aimed to extend previous results by investigating its modulation by social context. Cognitive conflict/action monitoring was assessed with the N2, in an exploratory manner the N450, and the CRN components. The Pre-Motor Positivity (PMP), associated with movement initiation, was suggested as a possible correlate of the successful resolution of self-other distinction. The cognitive control/action monitoring ERP components were influenced by the social context manipulation and partly by congruency, while PMP amplitudes were only sensitive to congruency. In addition, the exploratorily investigated N450 component predicted response times on incongruent relative to congruent trials in the different social contexts. This suggested that cognitive control/action monitoring processes, reflected in the N450, are guiding behavioral outcomes. Overall, interference control may primarily be guided by processes of cognitive control/action monitoring, whilst being modulated by social context demands.

Department of Cognition, Emotion, and Methods in Psychology, Vienna Cognitive Science Hub
External organisation(s)
Aix-Marseille Université, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, University of Oslo (UiO)
Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
301401 Brain research, 501006 Experimental psychology, 501014 Neuropsychology, 501030 Cognitive science
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