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Journal of Biomedical Optics

Studying social cognition using near-infrared spectroscopy: the case of social Simon effect
Author(s): Marcello Costantini; Assunta Di Vacri; Antonio Maria Chiarelli; Francesca Ferri; Gian L. Romani; Arcangelo Merla
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Paper 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.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 February 2013
PDF: 7 pages
J. Biomed. Opt. 18(2) 025005 doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.18.2.025005
Published in: Journal of Biomedical Optics Volume 18, Issue 2
Show Author Affiliations
Marcello Costantini, Univ. degli Studi G. d'Annunzio Chieti Pescara (Italy)
Assunta Di Vacri, Univ. degli Studi G. d'Annunzio Chieti Pescara (Italy)
Antonio Maria Chiarelli, Univ. degli Studi G. d'Annunzio Chieti Pescara (Italy)
Francesca Ferri, Univ. degli Studi di Parma (Italy)
Gian L. Romani, Univ. degli Studi G. d'Annunzio Chieti Pescara (Italy)
Arcangelo Merla, Univ. degli Studi G. d'Annunzio Chieti Pescara (Italy)

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