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How social is error observation? The neural mechanisms underlying the observation of human and machine errors

By Charlotte Desmet, Eliane Deschrijver and Marcel Brass


Recently, it has been shown that the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) is involved in error execution as well as error observation. Based on this finding, it has been argued that recognizing each other's mistakes might rely on motor simulation. In the current functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we directly tested this hypothesis by investigating whether medial prefrontal activity in error observation is restricted to situations that enable simulation. To this aim, we compared brain activity related to the observation of errors that can be simulated (human errors) with brain activity related to errors that cannot be simulated (machine errors). We show that medial prefrontal activity is not only restricted to the observation of human errors but also occurs when observing errors of a machine. In addition, our data indicate that the MPFC reflects a domain general mechanism of monitoring violations of expectancies

Topics: Social Sciences, medial prefrontal cortex, simulation, action observation, error, IMITATION, EXPERIENCE, PREDICTION, ACTIVATION, FMRI, COMMON, CORTEX, BRAIN ACTIVITY, COGNITIVE CONTROL, EXTRASTRIATE BODY AREA
Publisher: 'Oxford University Press (OUP)'
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.1093/scan/nst002
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