Exploring the Resonant Brain: The Effects of Social Context on Mirroring
Sukhvinder S. Obhi
Wilfrid Laurier University

It is well known that motor areas of an observer’s brain become active when watching another person acting (i.e., mirroring). However, Cognitive Neuroscience has most often examined such ‘motor resonance’ in socially impoverished contexts. Such studies have provided detailed information about basic processes, but have revealed rather less about how such processes are modulated by social context. I will present data from a series of studies on the effects of social factors and individual differences on basic motor resonance during action observation. I will also report data that highlights the link between motor resonance as studied by cognitive neuroscientists in highly constrained lab environments, and naturalistic social phenomena such as non-conscious mimicry of an interaction partner. My hope is to convey the utility of combining cognitive neuroscience techniques with social psychological approaches, to increase the scope of questions that can be addressed.