Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 179–200 | Cite as

Weaving the fabric of social interaction: Articulating developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience in the domain of motor cognition

  • Jessica A. Sommerville
  • Jean Decety
Theoretical and Review Articles


In this article, we bring together recent findings from developmental science and cognitive neuroscience to argue that perception-action coupling constitutes the fundamental mechanism of motor cognition. A variety of empirical evidence suggests that observed and executed actions are coded in a common cognitive and neural framework, enabling individuals to construct shared representations of self and other actions. We review work to suggest that such shared representations support action anticipation, organization, and imitation. These processes, along with additional computational mechanisms for determining a sense of agency and behavioral regulation, form the fabric of social interaction. In addition, humans possess the capacity to move beyond these basic aspects of action analysis to interpret behavior at a deeper level, an ability that may be outside the scope of the mirror system. Understanding the nature of shared representations from the vantage point of developmental and cognitive science and neuroscience has the potential to inform a range of motor and social processes. This perspective also elucidates intriguing new directions and research questions and generates specific hypotheses regarding the impact of early disorders (e.g., developmental movement disorders) on subsequent action processing.


Parietal Cortex Motor Imagery Mirror Neuron Premotor Cortex Inferior Parietal Lobule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ChicagoChicago
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and Institute for Learning and Brain SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattle

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