Top-down social modulation of interpersonal observation–execution
Cyclical upper limb movement can involuntarily deviate from its primary movement axis when the performer concurrently observes incongruent biological motion (i.e. interpersonal observation–execution). The current study examined the social modulation of such involuntary motor interference using a protocol that reflected everyday social interactions encountered in a naturalistic social setting. Eighteen participants executed cyclical horizontal arm movements during the observation of horizontal (congruent) or curvilinear (incongruent) biological motion. Both prior to, and during the interpersonal observation–execution task, participants also received a series of social words designed to prime a pro-social or anti-social attitude. The results showed greater orthogonal movement deviation, and thus interference, for the curvilinear compared to horizontal stimuli. Importantly, and opposite to most of the previous findings from work on automatic imitation and mimicry, there was a greater interference effect for the anti-social compared to pro-social prime condition. These findings demonstrate the importance of interpreting the context of social primes, and strongly support predictions of a comparison between the prime construct and the self-concept/-schema and the top-down response modulation of social incentives.
KeywordsMovement Trajectory Biological Motion Superior Temporal Sulcus Motor Contagion Movement Deviation
We would like to thank David Broadbent and Chris Dutoy for their help in designing the model stimuli.
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