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Distinguishing self and other in joint action: Evidence from a musical paradigm

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Novembre,  Giacomo
Max Planck Research Group Music Cognition and Action, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication, Leipzig, Germany;

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Ticini,  Luca Francesco
Max Planck Research Group Body and Self, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Schütz-Bosbach,  Simone
Max Planck Research Group Body and Self, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Keller,  Peter E.
Max Planck Research Group Music Cognition and Action, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Novembre, G., Ticini, L. F., Schütz-Bosbach, S., & Keller, P. E. (2012). Distinguishing self and other in joint action: Evidence from a musical paradigm. Cerebral Cortex, 22(12), 2894-2903. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhr364.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-60F0-4
Abstract
The capacity to distinguish between one's own and others' behavior is a cognitive prerequisite for successful joint action. We employed a musical joint action task to investigate how the brain achieves this distinction. Pianists performed the right-hand part of piano pieces, previously learned bimanually, while the complementary left-hand part either was not executed or was (believed to be) played by a co-performer. This experimental setting served to induce a co-representation of the left-hand part reflecting either the self or the co-performer. Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation was applied to the right primary motor cortex and motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded from the resting left forearm. Results show that corticospinal excitability was modulated by whether the representation of the left hand was associated with the self or the other, with the MEP amplitude being low and high, respectively. This result remained unchanged in a separate session where participants could neither see nor hear the other but still infer his presence by means of contextual information. Furthermore, the amplitude of MEPs associated with co-performer presence increased with pianists' self-reported empathy. Thus, the sociality of the context modulates action attribution at the level of the motor control system.