Poster F119, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Functional Specificity and Sex Differences in the Neural Circuits Supporting the Inhibition of Automatic Imitation
Kohinoor M. Darda1, Emily E. Butler1, Richard Ramsey1; 1Bangor University
Humans automatically copy other’s actions, building rapport and social closeness in the process. In many social situations, however, imitation can be maladaptive and requires inhibiting. In the last two decades, studies investigating neural correlates associated with imitation-inhibition have produced mixed findings. Some studies showed specialised engagement of the theory-of-mind (ToM) network, while others showed more general engagement of the multiple demand (MD) network. Further, behavioural evidence suggests that imitative tendencies vary as a function of sex, but no neuroscience research has directly investigated this proposal. Across 2 fMRI experiments, we investigated the extent to which imitation-inhibition relies on a functionally-specific circuit, which varies its response according to sex. Experiment 1 (N = 28) used a whole-brain approach and demonstrated recruitment of the MD network for imitation-inhibition. Based on these findings and subsequent power analyses, in Experiment 2 (N = 50; >80% power) we independently localised MD and ToM networks in individuals, before investigating the response profile during inhibition of automatic imitative and spatial response tendencies. The MD network was sensitive to both imitative and spatial compatibility, but there was no engagement of the ToM network. Females showed a greater spatial compatibility effect behaviourally, but there were no neural sex differences. Our findings provide the most convincing neuroimaging evidence to date that imitation control relies on a domain-general conflict monitoring system as opposed to a domain-specific system that supports social cognition. The findings suggest that previous models of imitation control require revision and sex differences in imitation require further investigation.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Other