|||ELIMINATING MIRROR RESPONSES BY INSTRUCTIONS||Marcel Brass||UGENT||2015 10||
Bardi, L., Bundt, C., Notebaert, W. & Brass, M. (2015). Eliminating mirror responses via instructions. Cortex, 70, 128-136. The observation of an action leads to the activation of the corresponding motor plan in the observer. This phenomenon of motor resonance has an important role in social interaction, promoting imitation, learning and action understanding. However, mirror responses not always have a positive impact on our behavior. An automatic tendency to imitate others can introduce interference in action execution and non-imitative or opposite responses have an advantage in some contexts. Previous studies suggest that mirror tendencies can be suppressed after extensive practice or in complementary joint action situations revealing that mirror responses are more flexible than previously thought. The aim of the present study was to gain insight into the mechanisms that allow response flexibility of motor mirroring. Here we show that the mere instruction of a counter-imitative mapping changes mirror responses as indexed by motor evoked potentials (MEPs) enhancement induced by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Importantly, mirror activation was measured while participants were passively watching finger movements, without having the opportunity to execute the task. This result suggests that the implementation of task instructions activates stimulus-response association that can overwrite the mirror representations. Our outcome reveals one of the crucial mechanisms that might allow flexible adjustments of mirror responses in different contexts. The implications of this outcome are discussed.