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Rhythm makes the world go round: An MEG-TMS study on the role of right TPJ theta oscillations in embodied perspective taking

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Wang, H., Callaghan, E., Gooding-Williams, G., McAllister, C., & Kessler, K. (2016). Rhythm makes the world go round: An MEG-TMS study on the role of right TPJ theta oscillations in embodied perspective taking. Cortex, 75, 68-81. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2015.11.011.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-B751-2
While some aspects of social processing are shared between humans and other species, some aspects are not. The former seems to apply to merely tracking another's visual perspective in the world (i.e., what a conspecific can or cannot perceive), while the latter applies to perspective taking in form of mentally “embodying” another's viewpoint. Our previous behavioural research had indicated that only perspective taking, but not tracking, relies on simulating a body schema rotation into another's viewpoint. In the current study we employed Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and revealed that this mechanism of mental body schema rotation is primarily linked to theta oscillations in a wider brain network of body-schema, somatosensory and motor-related areas, with the right posterior temporo-parietal junction (pTPJ) at its core. The latter was reflected by a convergence of theta oscillatory power in right pTPJ obtained by overlapping the separately localised effects of rotation demands (angular disparity effect), cognitive embodiment (posture congruence effect), and basic body schema involvement (posture relevance effect) during perspective taking in contrast to perspective tracking. In a subsequent experiment we interfered with right pTPJ processing using dual pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dpTMS) and observed a significant reduction of embodied processing. We conclude that right TPJ is the crucial network hub for transforming the embodied self into another's viewpoint, body and/or mind, thus, substantiating how conflicting representations between self and other may be resolved and potentially highlighting the embodied origins of high-level social cognition in general.