When two people engage in a bidirectional interaction with each other, they use both bottom-up sensorimotor mechanisms such as monitoring and adapting to the behaviour of the other, as well as top-down cognitive processes, modulating their beliefs and allowing them to make decisions. Most research in joint action has investigated only one of these mechanisms at a time – low-level processes underlying joint coordination, or high-level cognitive mechanisms that give insight into how people think about another. In real interactions, interplay between these two mechanisms modulates how we interact with others. In order to tease these apart in a mutual interaction, we conducted a synchronization-tapping experiment using a 2x2 factorial design, where one factor was the auditory feedback (hearing other or computer), and the other was the belief of what they were hearing (other or computer). MEG was measured from one co-actor, with the other co-actor seated outside the scanner. Our findings show frontal alpha suppression during anticipation of the task with a person vs. a computer, and frontal-sensorimotor suppression during task execution with the person vs. computer. This provides insight into neural mechanisms underlying belief of interacting with another person as well as engaging in interaction with the responsive other.
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18th Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology (ESCOP), 2014