The shared circuits model. How control, mirroring, and simulation can enable imitation and mind reading

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (1):1-22 (2008)
Abstract
Imitation, deliberation, and mindreading are characteristically human sociocognitive skills. Research on imitation and its role in social cognition is flourishing across various disciplines; it is here surveyed under headings of behavior, subpersonal mechanisms, and functions of imitation. A model is then advanced within which many of the developments surveyed can be located and explained. The shared circuits model explains how imitation, deliberation, and mindreading can be enabled by subpersonal mechanisms of control, mirroring and simulation. It is cast at a middle, functional level of description, between the level of neural implementation and the level of conscious perceptions and intentional actions. The shared circuits model connects shared informational dynamics for perception and action with shared informational dynamics for self and other, while also showing how the action/perception, self/other and actual/possible distinctions can be overlaid on these shared informational dynamics. It avoids the common conception of perception and action as separate and peripheral to central cognition. Rather, it contributes to the situated cognition movement by showing how mechanisms for perceiving action can be built on those for active perception.
Keywords action  active perception  control  embodied cognition  imitation
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