As part of my PhD thesis, I am investigating the role of the mirror neuron system in the linkage between perception and action.
Our ability to understand and respond to the actions of others has been a topic of recent controversy in the neuroscience literature. It has been suggested that action recognition occurs through a process of internal simulation, whereby the actions we observe activate our own motor representations of those very same actions. This process allows us to integrate the behaviour of others with our own experiences, resulting in action comprehension as well as appropriate motor planning.
Using analysis of reach-to-grasp kinematics, I have sought to directly measure the congruency effects of observed and executed actions. Specifically, I aim to explore the involvement of the mirror system in cooperative interactions, as well as how our intentions can influence the way in which observed actions are perceived.
These findings promise to provide further insights into the cognitive underpinnings of social interactions.
Ocampo, B. and Kritikos, A. (2009). Placing actions in context: Motor facilitation following observation of identical and non-identical manual acts. Experimental Brain Research. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-009-2089-6.
Ocampo, B. and Kritikos, A. (in press). Facilitation of Responses to Degraded Targets by Non-Degraded Distractors. Perception.