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Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 211, Issue 3–4, pp 613–630 | Cite as

What should I do next? Using shared representations to solve interaction problems

  • Giovanni PezzuloEmail author
  • Haris Dindo
Research Article

Abstract

Studies on how “the social mind” works reveal that cognitive agents engaged in joint actions actively estimate and influence another’s cognitive variables and form shared representations with them. (How) do shared representations enhance coordination? In this paper, we provide a probabilistic model of joint action that emphasizes how shared representations help solving interaction problems. We focus on two aspects of the model. First, we discuss how shared representations permit to coordinate at the level of cognitive variables (beliefs, intentions, and actions) and determine a coherent unfolding of action execution and predictive processes in the brains of two agents. Second, we discuss the importance of signaling actions as part of a strategy for sharing representations and the active guidance of another’s actions toward the achievement of a joint goal. Furthermore, we present data from a human-computer experiment (the Tower Game) in which two agents (human and computer) have to build together a tower made of colored blocks, but only the human knows the constellation of the tower to be built (e.g., red-blue-red-blue-\(\ldots\)). We report evidence that humans use signaling strategies that take another’s uncertainty into consideration, and that in turn our model is able to use humans’ actions as cues to “align” its representations and to select complementary actions.

Keywords

Joint action Shared representations Bayesian model Signaling Motor simulation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Guenther Knoblich, Natalie Sebanz and their research group for fruitful discussions, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Istituto di Linguistica Computazionale “Antonio Zampolli”, CNRPisaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, CNRRomaItaly
  3. 3.Computer Science EngineeringUniversity of PalermoPalermoItaly

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