State University of Milan
Minding minds: Through the looking glass
There is a plenty of evidence that observing someone else acting recruits the same brain resources as if one were actually acting. Over the last few years several electrophysiological and brain imaging studies have shown that the richer is one’s motor cognition the greater is her/his ability to make sense of others and to understand their actions from the inside as motor possibilities and not just from the outside as mere events going on in the external world (Rizzolatti and Sinigaglia 2010, Sinigaglia 2010). Less research, however, has been dedicated so far to exploring how deeply motor cognition is actually involved in action understanding and to what extent it impacts on the observer’s behavior itself. The talk aims to tackle these question by presenting and discussing some very recent experimental studies demonstrating, both at the behavioural and at neuronal level, that others’ actions are better understood when people share their motor cognition and are in position to exploit it. This suggests that acting and understanding are more closely related one another than previously thought, thus shedding new light on the ways we primarily mind other’s minds.