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Mirror Adaptation in Sensory-Motor Simultaneity


Watanabe,  M
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Watanabe, M., Shinohara, S., & Shimojo, S. (2011). Mirror Adaptation in Sensory-Motor Simultaneity. PLoS One, 6(12), 1-8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028080.

Background When one watches a sports game, one may feel her/his own muscles moving in synchrony with the player's. Such parallels between observed actions of others and one's own has been well supported in the latest progress in neuroscience, and coined “mirror system.” It is likely that due to such phenomena, we are able to learn motor skills just by observing an expert's performance. Yet it is unknown whether such indirect learning occurs only at higher cognitive levels, or also at basic sensorimotor levels where sensorimotor delay is compensated and the timing of sensory feedback is constantly calibrated. Methodology/Principal Findings Here, we show that the subject's passive observation of an actor manipulating a computer mouse with delayed auditory feedback led to shifts in subjective simultaneity of self mouse manipulation and auditory stimulus in the observing subjects. Likewise, self adaptation to the delayed feedback modulated the simultaneity judgment of the other subjects manipulating a mouse and an auditory stimulus. Meanwhile, subjective simultaneity of a simple visual disc and the auditory stimulus (flash test) was not affected by observation of an actor nor self-adaptation. Conclusions/Significance The lack of shift in the flash test for both conditions indicates that the recalibration transfer is specific to the action domain, and is not due to a general sensory adaptation. This points to the involvement of a system for the temporal monitoring of actions, one that processes both one's own actions and those of others.