Endedijk, H.M., Meyer, M., Bekkering, H., Cillessen, A.H.N., & Hunnius, S. (2017). Neural mirroring and social interaction: Motor system involvement during action observation relates to early peer cooperation. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 24, 33-41.
Abstract. Whether we hand over objects to someone, play a team sport, or make music together, social interaction often involves interpersonal action coordination, both during instances of cooperation and entrainment. Neural mirroring is thought to play a crucial role in processing other’s actions and is therefore considered important for social interaction. Still, to date, it is unknown whether interindividual differences in neural mirroring play a role in interpersonal coordination during different instances of social interaction. A relation between neural mirroring and interpersonal coordination has particularly relevant implications for early childhood, since successful early interaction with peers is predictive of a more favorable social development. We examined the relation between neural mirroring and children’s interpersonal coordination during peer interaction using EEG and longitudinal behavioral data. Results showed that 4-year-old children with higher levels of motor system involvement during action observation (as indicated by lower beta-power) were more successful in early peer cooperation. This is the first evidence for a relation between motor system involvement during action observation and interpersonal coordination during other instances of social interaction. The findings suggest that interindividual differences in neural mirroring are related to interpersonal coordination and thus successful social interaction.