Social cognition and primacy of movement revisited

Shaun Gallagher, Jonathan Cole, David McNeill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Recent work in psychology and philosophy has emphasized the important role of the motor system in relation to perception and in the origins and operations of social cognition. In a recent TICS review, Wolpert, Grahramani and Flanagan suggest thatdirect information transmission between people, such as speech, arm gestures or facial expressions, is mediated through the motor system, which provides a common code for communication Perception of the action of others, including speech, involves the action system. Others actions are decoded by activating one's own action system at a subthreshold level.
There are good empirical studies that offer support for this view. The authors cite research on mirror neurons, which respond both to self-generated actions and the actions of others. They also note that human neuroimaging and magnetic stimulation studies have shown that areas associated with action are also active during imitation and observation. Decety and his colleagues, have shown that there are shared motor representations for action, observation of another person's action, imitation and mental simulation of action. That is, these different activities activate the same brain areas (the SMA, the dorsal premotor cortex, the supramarginal gyrus and the superior parietal lobe).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-156
Number of pages2
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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