The role of parietal cortex in overimitation: a study with fNIRS


Previous studies have shown right parietal activation in response to observing irrational actions. Behavioral studies show that people sometimes imitate irrational actions, a phenomenon called overimitation. However, limitations on movement in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) mean that the neural basis of overimitation has not been studied. To address this, our study employed a less restrictive neuroimaging technique, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Measurements were taken while participants observed either rational or irrational movements before performing movements on a computerized puzzle task. Observing irrational actions produced greater activation in right anterior inferior parietal lobule (aIPL), replicating results from the fMRI literature. This is a proof of principle that fNIRS can be used as an alternative to fMRI in social cognition experiments, and that parietal cortex has a core role in responding to irrational actions.

Social Neuroscience