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Moving Mirrors: a high density EEG study investigating the effect of camera movements on motor cortex activation during action observation

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  • Katrin Heimann
  • Alessandra Umiltà, Universitá degli Studi di Parma, Italy
  • Vittorio Gallese, Universitá degli Studi di Parma, Italy
  • Michele Guerra, Universitá degli Studi di Parma, Italy
Action execution
–perception links (mirror mechanism) have
been repeatedly suggested to play crucial roles in social cognition.
Remarkably, the designs of most studies exploring this
topic so far excluded even the simplest traces of social interaction,
such as a movement of the observer toward another
individual. This study introduces a new design by investigating
the effects of camera movements, possibly simulating the
observerʼs own approaching movement toward the scene. We
conducted a combined high-density EEG and behavioral study
investigating motor cortex activation during action observation
measured by event-related desynchronization and resynchronization
(ERD/ERS) of the mu rhythm. Stimuli were videos showing
a goal-related hand action filmed while using the camera
in four different ways: filming from a fixed position, zooming
in on the scene, approaching the scene by means of a dolly,
and approaching the scene by means of a steadycam. Results
demonstrated a consistently stronger ERD of the mu rhythm
for videos that were filmed while approaching the scene with
a steadycam. Furthermore, videos in which the zoom was applied
reliably demonstrated a stronger rebound. A rating task
showed that videos in which the camera approached the
scene were felt as more involving and the steadycam was
most able to produce a visual experience close to the one of
a human approaching the scene. These results suggest that
filming technique predicts time course specifics of ERD/ERS
during action observation with only videos simulating the natural
vision of a walking human observer eliciting a stronger
ERD than videos filmed from a fixed position. This demonstrates
the utility of ecologically designed studies for exploring
social cognition
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Pages (from-to)2087-2101
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Neuroscience of Film , Cognitive Studies of Film, Film Style, EEG, Embodied Cognition

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