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PSYC21H3 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Neocortex, Cognitive Module, Mnemonic

Course Code
David Haley
Study Guide

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PSYC21 Final readings
Week 6 Reading: Evolutionary Origins of Social communication
Development of imitation: a comparative cognitive science approach
Imitation Humans must appropriately extract key elements from the info of others body movements
^ constantly changes over time
mentally assemble the extracted elements
control our own bodies to replicate the actions accurately
by imitating actions of others, observer can efficiently acquire the adaptive skills specific to
their group
w/o depending only on trial and error, or individual learning
ensures successful communication with others in order to ensure survival of group
effective communication requires ability to predict & understand behavior of others with
the same mental state as oneself
ToM: ability to understand intentions, goals, beliefs, & thoughts of others
Product of evoln that has enabled humans to survive in complex social environments
Imitation = believed to serve as foundn for development of these kinds of mental
Infants can learn that they share certain physical traits with others
Can compare their own experience of perf the same actions with the observed actions of
Helps infants develop a mental state of awareness that links them to the mental states of
Imitation also believed to play an esp imp role in imaginative ability of conceiving an object
not present, and to serve as a prereq for rep an object by abstract thought (eg: language)
Humans vs.
chimpsmonkey see, monkey do = untrue!!
Body imitation is difficult for monkeys & chimps
Chimps find it more difficult to perf actions that involved manipulating one object than
those that involved manipulating one object toward another object, or manipulating one
object toward me
They reproduced actions involving familiar motor patterns more easily than unfamiliar
But freq for imitation even for familiar actions were very low
Style of recognizing actions of others is diff in chimps than in humans
Info about body movements of other chimps (motor patterns) did not translate easily into
clues for reproducing the actions, for the chimps
Results indicate that when chimps are imitating, they pay less attn to body movements
and more to the objects being manipulated
It is very difficult for chimps to appropriately map the visual images of the body
movements of another in correspondence to their own body movements
Can humans
imitate from
time of
Meltzoff & Moore (1977): even newborn humans possess the ability to perform imitation w/
parts of their bodies they cant see themselves
Based on the fact that infants can imitate some facial expressions (like sticking out tongue,
aka neonatal imitation), hypothesized that humans possess an inherent body-mapping
Aka active inter-modal mapping (AIM)
This develops with age and allows humans to develop the ability to imitate more complex

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Neonatal imitation disappears/ lessens @ 2 months after birth, reappears @ about 1 year
Newborn chimps were able to differentiate & reproduce the facial expressions of another
individual from a week after birth
Neonatal imitation found to be shared b/w humans & chimps
Chimp neonatal imitation disappeared 9 weeks after birth
Neonatal imitation cant be explained by primordial reflex theory
Humans & chimps are able to differentiate b/w at least 2 diff expressions: tongue
protrusion & mouth opening
Baron-Cohen (1996): it is possible to perf imitative actions limited to the neonatal level w/o
perf body mapping b/w ones body and anothers
Human neonates do not perceive stimuli via specific sensory modalities with specialized
cortical nerve pathways
Stimuli are perceived in a synesthetic, amodal state on the subcortical level
Human infants can perceive stimulus traits w/o separating sight & touch
Within this amodal sensory system, newborns are thought to perceive moving stimuli
It is suggested that neonatal imitation is the result of infants synesthetically outputting
this info onto their own bodies
2 views of how the actions of others are regarded:
AIMunderstanding of the mental state of another person is developed thru auto & direct
inherent mapping of anothers body movements onto our own body
all actions of another individual are imitated and actually experienced with ones own
leads to a simulation of anothers perspective thru oneself
thru imitation immediately after birth, infants attribute their own mental states to mind
of the actor
directed human infants interpret & imitate the actions of others in attempts to achieve goals
imitation faithfully based on mapping was not observed (cant imitate touchin ear with
opposite hand)
this rational cognitive style seen in the head-light experiment = teleological stance
this isnt associated with the mental states of the other individual
its thought to be limited to a nonmentalistic level of explaining and predicting the goal of
Imitation as a form of communication, and its evoln origins
diff ways in which humans & chimps recognize (input) the behavior of others may be a reason for
the diff in their imitation abilities
Development of
& imitation
humans are able to imitate behaviors before 1 year of age if the action is
sufficiently simple
social communication based on the dyadic relationship occurs increasingly from
infants learn during this period to manipulate objects in simple ways
imitation based on a triadic relationship that is guided by an adult enables a more
faithful reexperiencing in the infant of the others action
Meltzoff (1990): 9mo infants prefer those who are imitating them than those who
Human infants learn each day w/ the guidance of others of how to communicate

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thru imitation
Sharing body
experiencesYou pinching yourself = bidirectional, you feel being pinched & pinching
being pinched = unidirectional, you feel only being pinched
Ecological self: through repeated body experiences such as these, human infants
become aware of how their own action can affect the external world
Through repetitions of self-awareness, infant becomes able to differentiate b/w
their own actions and those of others, while realizing that many aspects are
shared b/w the 2
By merely watching the actions of others, infant can gain access to intentional
mental states behind those actions
Infant can project their own mental state onto others
As infant performs shared imitation w/ others, mapping occurs in greater detail
Develops gradually through accumulation of shared body experiences with others
based on triadic communication
Development &
evoln of
It is very rare for chimps to interact triadically
Human infants understand objects thru the perspectives of others
This is rarely observed in chimps (moms dont interact with the chimp)
Chimps appear to predict the purpose of an action from their knowledge of the
objects traits & fxns, and the change of state they experience
Cant use the brush except for brushing (eg; cant hit with the brush, even when
Humans can predict the goals of someone w/o being restricted to a specific context
Mirror neurons: vental premotor area F5, inferior parietal cortex of the macaque
Discharges when a monkey perfs an action
Pigtailed macaques are capable of recognizing when they’re being imitated
Week 8 Reading: Inference or interaction social cognition w/o precursors
interaction theory (IT) as an alternative to both theory theory (TT) and simulation theory (ST)
various capacities for primary and secondary intersubjectivity found in infancy and early
childhood should not be thought of as precursors to later developing capacities for using folk
psychology or simulation routines
they various capacities for primary and secondary intersubjectivity found in infancy and early
childhood should not be thought of as precursors to later developing capacities for using folk
psychology or simulation routines
standard and dominant models of social cognition: TT and ST
Theory theorywe rely on our folk psychological theory to formulate the
theorywe explicitly simulate what must be going on in the others
mind by imagining ourselves in his or her shoes
social cognition is a problem (the problem of other minds) because we lack direct access to other
we need some special cognitive process (theorizing, simulating) that will allow us to infer
(mindread, mentalize) mental states in others
our normal everyday stance toward the other person is an observational stance
we observe behaviors with some degree of detachment, and we use those observations as
evidence for our theorizing, or as starting points for our simulating
these mentalizing processes (theorizing or simulating) constitute our primary and pervasive way
of understanding others
we attempt to explain or predict their behavior by divining their mental states
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