Cecilia Heyes's research while affiliated with University of Oxford and other places

Publications (179)

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Episodic representations can be entertained either as “remembered” or “imagined”—as outcomes of experience or as simulations of such experience. Here, we argue that this feature is the product of a dedicated cognitive function: the metacognitive capacity to determine the mnemicity of mental event simulations. We argue that mnemicity attribution sho...
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In a large variety of contexts, it is essential to use the available information to extract patterns and behave accordingly. When it comes to social interactions for instance, the information gathered about interaction partners across multiple encounters (e.g., trustworthiness) is crucial in guiding one’s own behavior (e.g., approach the trustworth...
Article
The bifocal stance theory (BST) of cultural evolution has prompted a wide-ranging discussion with broadly three aims: to apply the theory to novel contexts; to extend the conceptual framework; to offer critical feedback on various aspects of the theory. We first discuss BST's relevance to the diverse range of topics which emerged from the commentar...
Preprint
Episodic representations can be entertained either as ‘remembered’ or as ‘imagined’ – as outcomes of experience or as simulations of such experience. Here, we argue that this feature is the product of a dedicated cognitive function: the metacognitive capacity to determine the ‘mnemicity’ of mental event simulations. We argue that mnemicity attribut...
Article
Cultural evolution depends on both innovation (the creation of new cultural variants by accident or design) and high-fidelity transmission (which preserves our accumulated knowledge and allows the storage of normative conventions). What is required is an overarching theory encompassing both dimensions, specifying the psychological motivations and m...
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In this My word, Press et al. tackle the 'theory crisis' in cognitive science. Using examples of good and not-so-good theoretical practice, they distinguish theories from effects, predictions, hypotheses, typologies, and frameworks in a self-help checklist of seven questions to guide theory construction, evaluation, and testing.
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What is the relationship between imitation and culture? This article charts how definitions of imitation have changed in the last century, distinguishes three senses of “culture” used by contemporary evolutionists (Culture¹–Culture³), and summarises current disagreement about the relationship between imitation and culture. The disagreement arises f...
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Ten years ago, Perspectives in Psychological Science published the Mirror Neuron Forum, in which authors debated the role of mirror neurons in action understanding, speech, imitation, and autism and asked whether mirror neurons are acquired through visual-motor learning. Subsequent research on these themes has made significant advances, which shoul...
Article
What makes fast, cumulative cultural evolution work? Where did it come from? Why is it the sole preserve of humans? We set out a self-assembly hypothesis: cultural evolution evolved culturally. We present an evolutionary account that shows this hypothesis to be coherent, plausible, and worthy of further investigation. It has the following steps: (0...
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Research on ‘moral learning’ examines the roles of domain-general processes, such as Bayesian inference and reinforcement learning, in the development of moral beliefs and values. Alert to the power of these processes and equipped with both the analytic resources of philosophy and the empirical methods of psychology, ‘moral learners’ are ideally pl...
Preprint
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We give a brief overview of three accounts of the cognitive abilities that facilitated the emergence and transmission of cumulative culture in the recent hominin lineage. These accounts were developed by Joseph Henrich (e.g. 2016), Cecilia Heyes (e.g. 2018), and Michael Tomasello (e.g. 1999, 2008, 2014) in collaboration with others. We pay particul...
Article
Since antiquity, the term ‘imitation’ has been used promiscuously in biology and everyday life. Anything that makes some individuals look or act like others has been called imitation, from the evolutionary process that makes edible butterflies look like their inedible cousins (better known as Batesian mimicry), to the rag-bag of psychological proce...
Article
If you are not sure what ‘culture’ means, you are not alone. In 1952, anthropologists Kroeber and Kluckhohn identified 164 definitions of culture and there has been growth rather than rationalisation in the ensuing 70 years. In everyday English, culture is the knowledge and behaviour that characterises a particular group of people. Under this umbre...
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The Baldwin effect is a hypothetical process in which a learned response to environmental change evolves a genetic basis. Modelling has shown that the Baldwin effect offers a plausible and elegant explanation for the emergence of complex behavioural traits, but there is little direct empirical evidence for its occurrence. We highlight experimental...
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Bayesian brain theories suggest that perception, action and cognition arise as animals minimise the mismatch between their expectations and reality. This principle could unify cognitive science with the broader natural sciences, but leave key elements of cognition and behaviour unexplained.
Preprint
The Baldwin effect is a hypothetical process in which a learned response to environmental change evolves a genetic basis. Modelling has shown that the Baldwin effect offers a plausible, elegant explanation for the emergence of complex behavioural traits but there is little direct empirical evidence of its occurrence. Here we highlight experimental...
Preprint
What makes fast, cumulative cultural evolution work? Where did it come from? Why is it the sole preserve of humans? We set out a self-assembly hypothesis: cultural evolution evolved culturally. We present an evolutionary account that shows this hypothesis to be coherent, plausible, and worthy of further investigation. It has the following steps: (0...
Preprint
Full-text available
Ten years ago, Perspectives in Psychological Science published the Mirror Neuron Forum, debating the role of mirror neurons in action understanding, speech, imitation and autism, and asking whether mirror neurons are acquired through visual-motor learning. Subsequent research on these themes has made significant advances, which should encourage fur...
Article
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The adaptive features of cognitive mechanisms, the features that make them fit for purpose, have traditionally been explained by nature and nurture. In the last decade, evidence has emerged that distinctively human cognitive mechanisms are also, and predominantly, shaped by culture. Like physical technology, human cognitive mechanisms are inherited...
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Metacognition – the ability to represent, monitor and control ongoing cognitive processes – helps us perform many tasks, both when acting alone and when working with others. While metacognition is adaptive, and found in other animals, we should not assume that all human forms of metacognition are gene-based adaptations. Instead, some forms may have...
Preprint
Full-text available
Bayesian brain theories suggest that perception, action and cognition arise as creatures minimise the mismatch between their expectations and reality. This principle could unify cognitive science with the broader natural sciences, but leave key elements of cognition and behaviour unexplained.
Article
Responding to commentaries from psychologists, neuroscientists, philosophers, and anthropologists, I clarify a central purpose of Cognitive Gadgets – to overcome “cognition blindness” in research on human evolution. I defend this purpose against Brunerian, extended mind, and niche construction critiques of computationalism – that is, views prioriti...
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Eleven authors with disparate relevant backgrounds give their view on what is meant by the word "cognition".
Article
Cognitive Gadgets is a book about the cultural evolution of distinctively human cognitive mechanisms. Responding to commentators with different and broader interests, I argue that intelligent design has been more important in the formation of grist (technologies, practices and ideas) than of mills (cognitive mechanisms), and that embracing genetic...
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Scientific research on consciousness is critical to multiple scientific, clinical, and ethical issues. The growth of the field could also be beneficial to several areas including neurology and mental health research. To achieve this goal, we need to set funding priorities carefully and address problems such as job creation and potential media misre...
Article
In academic and public life empathy is seen as a fundamental force of morality – a psychological phenomenon, rooted in biology, with profound effects in law, policy, and international relations. But the roots of empathy are not as firm as we like to think. The matching mechanism that distinguishes empathy from compassion, envy, schadenfreude, and s...
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Cognitive gadgets are distinctively human neurocognitive mechanisms – such as imitation, mindreading, and language - that have been shaped by cultural rather than genetic evolution. New gadgets emerge, not by genetic mutation, but by innovations in cognitive development; they are specialised cognitive mechanisms built by general cognitive mechanism...
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Cultural evolution and cognitive science need each other. Cultural evolution needs cognitive science to find out whether the conditions necessary for Darwinian evolution are met in the cultural domain. Cognitive science needs cultural evolution to explain the origins of distinctively human cognitive processes. Focusing on the first question, I argu...
Article
Imitation is important in the development of social and technological skills throughout the lifespan. Experiments investigating the acquisition and modulation of imitation (and of its proposed neural substrate, the mirror neuron system) have produced evidence that the capacity for imitation depends on associative learning in which connections are f...
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In The Secret of Our Success, Joseph Henrich claims that human beings are unique—different from all other animals—because we engage in cumulative cultural evolution. It is the technological and social products of cumulative cultural evolution, not the intrinsic rationality or ‘smartness’ of individual humans, that enable us to live in a huge range...
Article
Making subtle and extensive use of eye-tracking technology, Krupenye and colleagues showed that, like human infants, great apes - chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans - can accurately anticipate the goal-directed behaviour of an agent that holds a false belief. How do they do it, by mentalising or by submentalising?
Chapter
Book synopsis: The Wiley Handbook on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning charts the evolution of associative analysis and the neuroscientific study of behavior as parallel approaches to understanding how the brain learns that both challenge and inform each other. Covers a broad range of topics while maintaining an overarching integrative approa...
Article
Social learning strategies (SLSs) enable humans, non-human animals, and artificial agents to make adaptive decisions about when they should copy other agents, and who they should copy. Behavioural ecologists and economists have discovered an impressive range of SLSs, and explored their likely impact on behavioural efficiency and reproductive fitnes...
Article
A powerful longitudinal study has failed to find any evidence that newborn babies can imitate facial gestures, hand movements or vocalisations. After 40 years of uncertainty, these findings indicate that humans learn to imitate; this capacity is not inborn.
Book
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Cognitive science is experiencing a pragmatic turn away from the traditional representation-centered framework toward a view that focuses on understanding cognition as “enactive.” This enactive view holds that cognition does not produce models of the world but rather subserves action as it is grounded in sensorimotor skills. In this volume, experts...
Chapter
Despite decades of research, we lack a comprehensive framework to study and explain cognitive development. The emerging “paradigm” of action-based cognition implies that cognitive development is an active rather than a passive, automatic, and self-paced maturational process. Importantly, “active” refers to both sensorimotor activity (in the narrow...
Article
I share with Poulin-Dubois and with Sabbagh, Koenig and Kuhlmeier the conviction that more research is needed on the mechanisms supporting selective social learning in infants and children. However, my plea is more specific: for research that tests domain-specific hypotheses about mechanism against domain-general hypotheses derived from other field...
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The theory of natural pedagogy is an important focus of research on the evolution and development of cultural learning. It proposes that we are born pupils; that human children genetically inherit a package of psychological adaptations that make them receptive to teaching. In this article, I first examine the components of the package—eye contact,...
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In this Commentary article we critically assess the claims made by Schurz, Kronbichler, Weissengrubler, Surtees, Samson and Perner (2015) relating to the neural processes underlying theory of mind and visual perspective taking. They attempt to integrate research findings in these two areas of social neuroscience using a perspective taking task cont...
Article
Many comparative and developmental psychologists believe thatwe are Homo imitans; humans are more skilled and prolific imitators than other animals, becausewe have a special, inborn ‘intermodal matching’ mechanism that integrates representations of others with representations of the self. In contrast, the associative sequence learning (ASL) model s...
Article
To make good use of learning from others (social learning), we need to learn from the right others; from agents who know better than we do. Research on social learning strategies (SLSs) has identified rules that focus social learning on the right agents, and has shown that the behaviour of many animals conforms to these rules. However, it has not a...
Article
Developmental research on selective social learning, or 'social learning strategies', is currently a rich source of information about when children copy behaviour, and who they prefer to copy. It also has the potential to tell us when and how human social learning becomes cultural learning; i.e. mediated by psychological mechanisms that are special...
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Ward and Banissy's illuminating discussion of mirror-touch synesthesia (MTS) encourages research testing two alternatives to Threshold Theory: Their own Self-Other Theory, and "Task Control Theory". MTS may be due to abnormal mirror activity plus a domain-general, rather than a specifically social, impairment in the ability to privilege processing...
Article
Social learning strategies (SLSs) are rules specifying the conditions in which it would be adaptive for animals to copy the behaviour of others rather than to persist with a previously established behaviour or to acquire a new behaviour through asocial learning. In behavioural ecology, cultural evolutionary theory and economics, SLSs are studied us...
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Dominant individuals report high levels of self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and authoritarianism. The lay stereotype suggests that such individuals ignore information from others, preferring to make their own choices. However, the nonhuman animal literature presents a conflicting view, suggesting that dominant individuals are avid social learners, wh...
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In the director task (DT), participants are instructed to move objects within a grid of shelves while ignoring those objects that cannot be seen by a human figure, the "director," located beyond the shelves. It is widely assumed that, since they are explicitly instructed to do, participants use mentalizing in this communicative task; they represent...
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There are cells in our motor cortex that fire both when we perform and when we observe similar actions. It has been suggested that these perceptual-motor couplings in the brain develop through associative learning during correlated sensorimotor experience. Although studies with adult participants have provided support for this hypothesis, there is...
Article
Research on mindreading in animals has the potential to address fundamental questions about the nature and origins of the human capacity to ascribe mental states, but it is a research programme that seems to be in trouble. Between 1978 and 2000 several groups used a range of methods, some with considerable promise, to ask whether animals can unders...
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It is not just a manner of speaking: “Mind reading,” or working out what others are thinking and feeling, is markedly similar to print reading. Both of these distinctly human skills recover meaning from signs, depend on dedicated cortical areas, are subject to genetically heritable disorders, show cultural variation around a universal core, and reg...
Article
Fifty years ago, Niko Tinbergen defined the scope of behavioural biology with his four problems: causation, ontogeny, survival value and evolution. About 20 years ago, there was another highly significant development in behavioural biology-the discovery of mirror neurons (MNs). Here, I use Tinbergen's original four problems (rather than the list th...
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This article argues that mirror neurons originate in sensorimotor associative learning and therefore a new approach is needed to investigate their functions. Mirror neurons were discovered about 20 years ago in the monkey brain, and there is now evidence that they are also present in the human brain. The intriguing feature of many mirror neurons is...
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Commentators have tended to focus on the conceptual framework of our article, the contrast between genetic and associative accounts of mirror neurons, and to challenge it with additional possibilities rather than empirical data. This makes the empirically focused comments especially valuable. The mirror neuron debate is replete with ideas; what it...
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Can infants appreciate that others have false beliefs? Do they have a theory of mind? In this article I provide a detailed review of more than 20 experiments that have addressed these questions, and offered an affirmative answer, using nonverbal 'violation of expectation' and 'anticipatory looking' procedures. Although many of these experiments are...
Article
The nativist view of mentalizing-the view that humans have an inherent capacity to think about the mental states of others-has been recently reinvigorated by reports that adults and infants automatically represent mental states-that they engage in implicit mentalizing. In this article, I take a close look at the strongest evidence of implicit menta...
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The human mind is extraordinary in its ability not merely to respond to events as they unfold but also to adapt its own operation in pursuit of its agenda. This 'cognitive control' can be achieved through simple interactions among sensorimotor processes, and through interactions in which one sensorimotor process represents a property of another in...
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Previous studies using the dot perspective task have shown that adults are slower to verify the number of dots they can see in a picture when a human figure in the picture, an avatar, can see a different number of dots. This "self-consistency effect," which occurs even when the avatar's perspective is formally task-irrelevant, has been interpreted...
Article
Being imitated has a wide range of pro-social effects, but it is not clear how these effects are mediated. Naturalistic studies of the effects of being imitated have not established whether pro-social outcomes are due to the similarity and/or the contingency between the movements performed by the actor and those of the imitator. Similarity is often...
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The human mirror system has been the subject of much research over the past two decades, but little is known about the timecourse of mirror responses. In addition, it is unclear whether mirror and counter-mirror effects follow the same timecourse. We used single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation to investigate the timecourse of mirror and cou...
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The crux of the debate between ourselves and Bertenthal and Scheutz (2013) (B&S) is whether imitative compatibility effects reflect the operation of specialized imitation- related mechanisms or instead arise from the same associative learning processes thought to underlie spatial compatibility effects. Our conclusions were, and remain, more modest...
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There is a large body of evidence of apparently spontaneous mimicry in humans. This phenomenon has been described as "automatic imitation" and attributed to a mirror neuron system, but there is little direct evidence that it is involuntary rather than intentional. Cook et al. supplied the first such evidence in a unique strategic game design that g...
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Mirror neurons may be a genetic adaptation for social interaction [1]. Alternatively, the associative hypothesis [2], [3] proposes that the development of mirror neurons is driven by sensorimotor learning, and that, given suitable experience, mirror neurons will respond to any stimulus. This hypothesis was tested using fMRI adaptation to index popu...
Article
Imitation of facial gestures requires the cognitive system to equate the seen-but-unfelt with the felt-but-unseen. Rival accounts propose that this "correspondence problem" is solved either by an innate supramodal mechanism (the active intermodal-mapping, or AIM, model) or by learned, direct links between the corresponding visual and proprioceptive...
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The associative sequence learning (ASL) hypothesis suggests that sensorimotor experience plays an inductive role in the development of the mirror neuron system, and that it can play this crucial role because its effects are mediated by learning that is sensitive to both contingency and contiguity. The Hebbian hypothesis proposes that sensorimotor e...
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Using cooperation in chimpanzees as a case study, this article argues that research on animal minds needs to steer a course between 'association-blindness'--the failure to consider associative learning as a candidate explanation for complex behaviour--and 'simple-mindedness'--the assumption that associative explanations trump more cognitive hypothe...
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Cumulative cultural evolution is what 'makes us odd'; our capacity to learn facts and techniques from others, and to refine them over generations, plays a major role in making human minds and lives radically different from those of other animals. In this article, I discuss cognitive processes that are known collectively as 'cultural learning' becau...
Article
Humans are animals that specialize in thinking and knowing, and our extraordinary cognitive abilities have transformed every aspect of our lives. In contrast to our chimpanzee cousins and Stone Age ancestors, we are complex political, economic, scientific and artistic creatures, living in a vast range of habitats, many of which are our own creation...
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Automatic imitation or "imitative compatibility" is thought to be mediated by the mirror neuron system and to be a laboratory model of the motor mimicry that occurs spontaneously in naturalistic social interaction. Imitative compatibility and spatial compatibility effects are known to depend on different stimulus dimensions-body movement topography...
Article
Automatic imitation-the unintended copying of observed actions-is thought to be a behavioral product of the mirror neuron system (MNS). Evidence that the MNS develops through associative learning comes from previous research showing that automatic imitation is attenuated by countermirror training, in which the observation of one action is paired co...
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Much contemporary psychology assumes a fundamental distinction between associative explanations of animal behaviour, in term of unthinking 'conditioned responses', and rational explanations, which credit animals with relevant 'knowledge' or 'understanding' or 'concepts'. This paper argues that this dichotomy is both unclear and methodologically unh...
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Evidence for successful socio-cognitive training in typical adults is rare. This study attempted to improve Theory of Mind (ToM) and visual perspective taking in healthy adults by training participants to either imitate or to inhibit imitation. Twenty-four hours after training, all participants completed tests of ToM and visual perspective taking....
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Research on social learning in animals has revealed a rich variety of cases where animals--from caddis fly larvae to chimpanzees--acquire biologically important information by observing the actions of others. A great deal is known about the adaptive functions of social learning, but very little about the cognitive mechanisms that make it possible....
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Perhaps no other application of mirror neuron hypothesizing has been characterized by as much speculation as that of the relation between mirror neurons and the autistic phenotype. However, of the two most prominent studies promoting the broken mirror neuron hypothesis of autism, one (Dapretto et al., 2006) failed twice to replicate, and the other...
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When motion is isolated from form cues and viewed from third-person perspectives, individuals are able to recognize their own whole body movements better than those of friends. Because we rarely see our own bodies in motion from third-person viewpoints, this self-recognition advantage may indicate a contribution to perception from the motor system....
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A compelling body of evidence indicates that observing a task-irrelevant action makes the execution of that action more likely. However, it remains unclear whether this 'automatic imitation' effect is indeed automatic or whether the imitative action is voluntary. The present study tested the automaticity of automatic imitation by asking whether it...
Article
Imitation requires the imitator to solve the correspondence problem--to translate visual information from modelled action into matching motor output. It has been widely accepted for some 30 years that the correspondence problem is solved by a specialized, innate cognitive mechanism. This is the conclusion of a poverty of the stimulus argument, real...
Article
"Automatic imitation" is a type of stimulus-response compatibility effect in which the topographical features of task-irrelevant action stimuli facilitate similar, and interfere with dissimilar, responses. This article reviews behavioral, neurophysiological, and neuroimaging research on automatic imitation, asking in what sense it is "automatic" an...
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Imitative compatibility, or automatic imitation, has been used as a measure of imitative performance and as a behavioral index of the functioning of the human mirror system (e.g., Brass, Bekkering, Wohlschlager, & Prinz, 2000; Heyes, Bird, Johnson, & Haggard, 2005; Kilner, Paulignan, & Blakemore, 2003). However, the use of imitative compatibility a...
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After preliminary training to open a sliding door using their head and their paw, dogs were given a discrimination task in which they were rewarded with food for opening the door using the same method (head or paw) as demonstrated by their owner (compatible group), or for opening the door using the alternative method (incompatible group). The incom...
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Despite nearly two decades of research on mirror neurons, there is still much debate about what they do. The most enduring hypothesis is that they enable 'action understanding'. However, recent critical reviews have failed to find compelling evidence in favour of this view. Instead, these authors argue that mirror neurons are produced by associativ...
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In a semi-naturalistic response-effect compatibility paradigm, participants were given the opportunity to learn that hand-shaking actions would be followed by social effects (human hand-shaking stimuli from a third-person perspective) or inanimate effects (block arrow stimuli). Relative to the actions, these effects appeared on the same or the oppo...
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In naturalistic interpersonal settings, mimicry or “automatic imitation” generates liking, affiliation, cooperation and other positive social attitudes. The purpose of this study was to find out whether the relationship between social attitudes and mimicry is bidirectional: Do social attitudes have a direct and specific effect on mimicry? Participa...
Article
Mirror neurons fire during both the performance of an action and the observation of the same action being performed by another. These neurons have been recorded in ventral premotor and inferior parietal cortex in the macaque, but human brain imaging studies suggest that areas responding to the observation and performance of actions are more widespr...
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The effector dependence of automatic imitation was investigated using a stimulus-response compatibility (SRC) procedure during which participants were required to make an open or closed response with their hand or their mouth. The correct response for each trial was indicated by a pair of letters in Experiments 1 and 2 and by a colored square in Ex...
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Previous studies of walking gait have reported counter-intuitive self-recognition effects whereby actors are able to better identify allocentric displays of their own walking gait, than those of friends. Insofar as actors typically have little visual experience of their own gaits from third-person perspectives, such effects may indicate a contribut...
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The associative sequence learning model proposes that the development of the mirror system depends on the same mechanisms of associative learning that mediate Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning. To test this model, two experiments used the reduction of automatic imitation through incompatible sensorimotor training to assess whether mirror syst...
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Debates about the evolution of the ‘mirror neuron system’ imply that it is an adaptation for action understanding. Alternatively, mirror neurons may be a byproduct of associative learning. Here I argue that the adaptation and associative hypotheses both offer plausible accounts of the origin of mirror neurons, but the associative hypothesis has thr...
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Mirror neurons have been hailed as the key to understanding social cognition. I argue that three currents of thought-relating to evolution, atomism and telepathy-have magnified the perceived importance of mirror neurons. When they are understood to be a product of associative learning, rather than an adaptation for social cognition, mirror neurons...
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The question of whether non-human animals are conscious is of fundamental importance. There are already good reasons to think that many are, based on evolutionary continuity and other considerations. However, the hypothesis is notoriously resistant to direct empirical test. Numerous studies have shown behaviour in animals analogous to consciously-p...
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Several theories of the mechanisms linking perception and action require that the links are bidirectional, but there is a lack of consensus on the effects that action has on perception. We investigated this by measuring visual event-related brain potentials to observed hand actions while participants prepared responses that were spatially compatibl...
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Several theories suggest that actions are coded for imitation in terms of mentalistic goals, or inferences about the actor's intentions, and that these goals solve the correspondence problem by allowing sensory input to be translated into matching motor output. We tested this intention reading hypothesis against general process accounts of imitatio...
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A core requirement for imitation is a capacity to solve the correspondence problem; to map observed onto executed actions, even when observation and execution yield sensory inputs in different modalities and coordinate frames. Until recently, it was assumed that the human capacity to solve the correspondence problem is innate. However, it is now be...
Article
Imitation is at the heart of social cognitive neuroscience. It is a neurocognitive process that bridges the gap between minds; powers cognitive and social development; promotes cooperation and well-being; and provides a channel of cultural inheritance. The papers in this theme issue review cutting-edge research on imitation and report original data...
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On video, budgerigars observed a conspecific demonstrator depressing a stopper by pecking or by stepping and then feeding from the box below. The observers were given access to the stopper, immediately after observation or following a 24 h delay, and we recorded the proportion of their stopper removal responses that were made by pecking and by step...

Citations

... To conclude, Heyes [2] is absolutely right in emphasizing the importance of studying the impact of the sociocultural environment on the developmental origins of technical reasoning. She is also perfectly right in stressing that integrating the distinction between instrumental and ritual stances [12] with the technical-reasoning hypothesis can help us delineate its cognitive boundaries. Much still needs to be done in this respect, and we are extremely grateful to Heyes for her thoughtful and stimulating commentary on our article, which is a source of inspiration for our future research. ...
... Ideally, competing predictions should be generated from different theories concerning the outcome of a new experiment, formulated in such a way that the results are bound to falsify one of the theories. However, generating appropriate predictions can be tricky (Press, Yon, & Heyes, 2022). It is also worth remembering that the ultimate fate of nearly all theories is to be discarded either because they fail to predict new data or because they prove unsatisfactory on the basis of other criteria. ...
... Another important mechanism question asks whether the ritual and instrumental stances differentially recruit imitation and emulation. In imitation, narrowly defined, the observer copies body movementsthe way that parts of the body move relative to one another (e.g., fist to chin)whereas in emulation, the observer reproduces object movements (e.g., purple cube to red peg) (Heyes, 1993;Heyes, 2021a;2021b;Tomasello, Kruger, & Ratner, 1993). Given that many group-defining communicative and ritual actions are intransitive, consisting of gestures and postures that do not involve objects (such as rhythmic dancing, marching, and more generally rituals that rely on joint and synchronous movements; Wiltermuth & Heath, 2009), it is likely that the ritual stance primes imitation more strongly than the instrumental stance. ...
... Historically, one research direction has been about explaining ToM through the activity of so-called mirror neurons (Gallese and Goldman 1998;Rizzolatti and Sinigaglia 2008). However, strong criticisms of this view (Hickok 2014;Heyes 2010) have curbed the enthusiasm of these early claims and the relative interest in mirror neurons has decreased considerably (Heyes and Catmur 2022). As explained below, we see such controversies as an opportunity for DL researchers. ...
... It has a complex communication system and fitness interdependence, which in humans takes the form of collective resource acquisition, risk pooling, cooperative breeding and role specialization. Culture-'socially transmitted information ' [7] or 'the totality of traditions acquired in a community through social learning' [8]-was a key selective pressure in human evolution [9][10][11][12], and it has been argued that culture is the primary reason for our species' success in the realm of cooperation [13,14]. A hallmark of human culture is widely accepted to be its cumulative capacity, that is, cultural traditions collectively build on one another through modification [8,9,15,16]. ...
... For instance, archeologists have stressed that early hominins [17][18][19][20][21] may have shown signs of causal understanding of stone fracturing and knapping skills. Others have also argued that imitation is a good candidate for the cultural inheritance of communicative gestures but not of technology [22]. In this vein, the present discussion can contribute to building bridges between these different bodies of literature and cognitive sciences with the aim of developing a specific framework for the role played by technical cognition in CTC [23,24]. ...
Citing article
... Why are other species less so? What, if not adaptation for culture, explains humans' massive ecological spread?, (and what is culture anyway, from a scientific point of view?: see [7][8][9][10]). ...
Citing article
... A priority for future research is to work out how domain-general processes such as associative learning and reasoning produce and interact with specifically social processes (Heyes, 2019;Heyes et al., 2020). Consistent with our results, a recent report has shown that social group membership does not modulate blocking in social learning (Vaz et al., 2022). ...