Poster F16, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Watching joint actions in dance synchronizes brain activity in expert and novice spectators
Guido Orgs1, Adrian Williams2, Staci Vicary1; 1Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2Division of Psychology, Department of Life Sciences, Brunel University London
Performing joint actions is central to social interactions. Much research examined the psychological and neural mechanisms of performing joint actions, yet few studies have assessed the impact of watching joint actions on passive observers. Here, we investigated the perception of joint actions in dance using inter-subject correlations (ISCs) and fMRI. In dance, performers skillfully coordinate their movements to produce synchrony. We directly quantified movement synchrony among 10 dancers performing a 30-minute choreography, using wrist accelerometers and cross-recurrence analysis. Subsequently, 14 expert and 11 novice dancers passively watched a video recording of the choreography in the scanner. Whole brain ISCs across the entire performance revealed the strongest correlations in medio-temporal visual and primary auditory cortices. These correlations were stronger and more widespread among experts than novices, suggesting reduced variability in visual and auditory processing of the observed actions in expert observers. Only experts exhibited additional synchronization in the superior parietal cortex, in line with an involvement of the human action observation network in joint action perception. A time-windowed ISC analysis included continuous measures of group synchrony and acceleration to clarify whether visual, auditory or movement parameters best predicted synchronization among spectators. For both expert and novice spectators, dynamic ISCs were best predicted by group synchrony. Group acceleration and audio-visual content were less powerful predictors of ISCs. Our findings show that the human brain reconstructs socially relevant kinematic movement parameters from visual input. Watching synchronous movement in dance may be appealing because it signals successful cooperation between people.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotional responding