Skip to main content
Log in

My partner is also on my mind: social context modulates the N1 response

  • Research Article
  • Published:
Experimental Brain Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


When individuals share a task with a partner, one’s own actions and one’s partner’s actions have to be precisely tuned to one another. With behavioral means, it has been numerously shown that splitting a simple reaction time task between two participants produces similar interference patterns to those occurring when controlling the whole task on one’s own. Less is known about the neuronal correlates when sharing a task with a partner. The processes of agent identification (“my turn” vs. “my partner’s turn”) were the focus of this study. In an EEG study, pairs of participants responded to different action-associated stimuli in a Go/NoGo paradigm. The same task was performed together with a partner (joint Go/NoGo condition) and when a partner was not present (single Go/NoGo condition). This study showed a top-down influence of social setting on early visual processing as indexed by the Go-N1 and NoGo-N1 response. This effect was only present in the joint Go/NoGo condition. It was particularly present in those trials where the partner did not have to act. Taken together, these results yield evidence for an early top-down influence of social setting on early processes of stimulus identification and differentiation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. In this paper, we label the stimuli as “own response”, “response of both”, “partner’s trial” and “neutral trial” in order to differentiate between the four action-associated stimuli even though there is no partner (and thus no “response of both” or “partner’s trial”) in the single Go/NoGo-condition.


  • Baess P, Jacobsen T, Schroger E (2008) Suppression of the auditory N1 event-related potential component with unpredictable self-initiated tones: evidence for internal forward models with dynamic stimulation. Int J Psychophysiol 70(2):137–143

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Baess P, Horvath J, Jacobsen T, Schroger E (2011) Selective suppression of self-initiated sounds in an auditory stream: an ERP study. Psychophysiology 48(9):1276–1283

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bratman ME (1992) Shared cooperative activity. Philos Rev 101(2):327–340

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Colzato LS, Zech H, Hommel B, Verdonschot R, van den Wildenberg WPM, Hsieh S (2012) Loving-kindness brings loving-kindness: the impact of Buddhism on cognitive self-other integration. Psychon B Rev 19(3):541–545

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Costantini M, Di Vacri A, Chiarelli AM, Ferri F, Romani GL, Merla A (2013) Studying social cognition using near-infrared spectroscopy: the case of social Simon effect. J Biomed Opt 18 (2)

  • de Vignemont F, Haggard P (2008) Action observation and execution: what is shared? Soc Neurosci 3(3–4):421–433

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dolk T, Hommel B, Colzato LS, Schütz-Bosbach S, Prinz W, Liepelt R (2011) How “social” is the social Simon effect? Front Psychol 2:1–9

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dolk T, Hommel B, Prinz W, Liepelt R (2013) The (Not So) Social Simon Effect: a referential coding account. J Exp Psychol Human 39(5):1248–1260

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guagnano D, Rusconi E, Umilta CA (2010) Sharing a task or sharing space? On the effect of the confederate in action coding in a detection task. Cognition 114(3):348–355

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hillyard SA, Hink RF, Schwent VL, Picton TW (1973) Electrical signs of selective attention in the human brain. Science 182(108):177–180

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hollander A, Jung C, Prinz W (2011) Covert motor activity on NoGo trials in a task sharing paradigm: evidence from the lateralized readiness potential. Exp Brain Res 211(3–4):345–356

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hommel B, Colzato LS, van den Wildenberg WPM (2009) How social are task representations? Psychol Sci 20(7):794–798

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Knoblich G, Sebanz N (2006) The social nature of perception and action. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 15(3):99–104

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kourtis D, Sebanz N, Knoblich G (2010) Favouritism in the motor system: social interaction modulates action simulation. Biol Lett 6:758–761

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kuhbandner C, Pekrun R, Maier MA (2010) The role of positive and negative affect in the mirroring of other persons’ actions. Cogn Emot 24(7):1182–1190

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lam MY, Chua R (2009) Influence of stimulus-response assignment on the joint-action correspondence effect. Psychol Res 74(5):476–480

  • Milanese N, Iani C, Rubichi S (2010) Shared learning shapes human performance: transfer effects in task sharing. Cognition 116(1):15–22

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Newman-Norlund RD, Noordzij ML, Meulenbroek RG, Bekkering H (2007) Exploring the brain basis of joint action: co-ordination of actions, goals and intentions. Soc Neurosci 2(1):48–65

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nobre AC (2001) Orienting attention to instants in time. Neuropsychologia 39(12):1317–1328

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Oldfield RC (1971) The assessment and analysis of handedness: the Edinburgh inventory. Neuropsychologia 9(1):97–113

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Philipp AM, Prinz W (2010) Evidence for a role of the responding agent in the joint compatibility effect. Q J Exp Psychol (Colch) 63(11):2159–2171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Prinz W (1990) A common coding approach to perception and action. In: Neumann O, Prinz W, Pieri P (eds) Relationships between perception and action: current approaches. Springer, Berlin, pp 167–201

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Ruys KI, Aarts H (2010) When competition merges people’s behavior: interdependency activates shared action representations. J Exp Soc Psychol 46:1130–1133

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sebanz N (2009) Prediction in joint action: what, when, where. Top Cogn Sci 1:353–367

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sebanz N, Knoblich G, Prinz W (2003) Representing others’ actions: just like one’s own? Cognition 88:B11–B21

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sebanz N, Knoblich G, Prinz W (2005) How two share a task: corepresenting stimulus–response mappings. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 31(6):1234–1246

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sebanz N, Knoblich G, Prinz W, Wascher E (2006) Twin peaks: an ERP study of action planning and control in co-acting individuals. J Cogn Neurosci 18(5):859–870

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Simon JR (1990) The effects of an irrelevant directional cue on human information processing. In: Proctor RW, Reeve TG (eds) Stimulus–response compatibility: an integrated perspective. North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp 31–86

    Google Scholar 

  • Tsai CC, Kuo WJ, Jing JT, Hung DL, Tzeng OJ (2006) A common coding framework in self-other interaction: evidence from joint action task. Exp Brain Res 175(2):353–362

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Tsai CC, Kuo WJ, Hung DL, Tzeng OJ (2008) Action co-representation is tuned to other humans. J Cogn Neurosci 20(11):2015–2024

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Vesper C, Butterfill S, Knoblich G, Sebanz N (2010) A minimal architecture for joint action. Neural Netw 23(8–9):998–1003

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Welsh TN (2009) When 1 + 1 = 1: the unification of independent actors revealed through joint Simon effects in crossed and uncrossed effector conditions. Hum Mov Sci 28(6):726–737

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Welsh TN, Higgins L, Ray M, Weeks DJ (2007) Seeing vs. believing: is believing sufficient to activate the processes of response co-representation? Hum Mov Sci 26(6):853–866

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wenke D, Atmaca S, Holländer A, Liepelt R, Baess P, Prinz W (2011) What is shared in joint action? Co-representation, response conflict, and agent identification. Philos Psychol Rev 2:147–172

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wolpert DM, Flanagan JR (2001) Motor prediction. Curr Biol 11(18):R729–R732

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wolpert DM, Doya K, Kawato M (2003) A unifying computational framework for motor control and social interaction. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 358(1431):593–602

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank Jeanine Auerswald and Martin Korndörfer for help with the EEG recording and Torsten Kästner for technical support.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pamela Baess.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Baess, P., Prinz, W. My partner is also on my mind: social context modulates the N1 response. Exp Brain Res 233, 105–113 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: