Research Papers: General

Studying social cognition using near-infrared spectroscopy: the case of social Simon effect

[+] Author Affiliations
Marcello Costantini, Assunta Di Vacri, Antonio Maria Chiarelli, Gian Luca Romani, Arcangelo Merla

University G. d’Annunzio, Department of Neuroscience and Imaging, Via dei Vestini, 33, 66013, Chieti, Italy, and Foundation University G. d’Annunzio, ITAB-Institute for Advanced Biomedical Technologies, Chieti, Italy

Francesca Ferri

University of Parma, Department of Neuroscience, Section of Physiology, Parma, Italy

J. Biomed. Opt. 18(2), 025005 (Feb 15, 2013). doi:10.1117/1.JBO.18.2.025005
History: Received September 24, 2012; Revised January 29, 2013; Accepted January 30, 2013
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Abstract.  In order to understand the so-called “social brain,” we need to monitor social interactions in face-to-face paradigms. Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a promising technique to achieve this goal. We investigate the neuronal underpinnings of sharing a task in a proper social context. We record cortical activity by means of NIRS, while participants perform a joint Simon task. Different from other hemodynamic techniques, NIRS allows us to have both participants sit comfortably close to each other in a realistic and ecological environment. We found higher activation in the sensorimotor cortex while processing compatible trials as compared to incompatible ones referring to one’s own action alternative. Strikingly, when the participant was not responding because it was the turn of the other member of the pair, the inferior parietal was activated. This study provides twofold findings: first, they suggest that the joint Simon effect relies more on shared attentional mechanisms than a proper mapping of the other’s motor response. Second, they highlight the invaluable contribution NIRS can afford to social neuroscience in order to preserve ecological and naturalistic settings.

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© 2013 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

Citation

Marcello Costantini ; Assunta Di Vacri ; Antonio Maria Chiarelli ; Francesca Ferri ; Gian Luca Romani, et al.
"Studying social cognition using near-infrared spectroscopy: the case of social Simon effect", J. Biomed. Opt. 18(2), 025005 (Feb 15, 2013). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.JBO.18.2.025005


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