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Chapter 11

Chapter 11

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Chapter 11 - Motor Cognition and Mental Simulation Putting ourselves into someone elses shoes requires motor cognition Motor cognition is mental processing in which the motor system draws on stored information to plan and produce actions and also allows us to anticipate, predict and interpret the actions of others The nature of motor cognition Action is a visible manifestation of a series of mental processes. These same mental processes involved in acting can be used in thinking about actions without actually performing them Movement is a voluntary displacement of a body part in physical space. Action is a series of movements that must be accomplished in order to reach a goal. Therefore, action is goal directed and movement is not goal directed Motor cognition involves all the mental processes involved in the planning, preparation and production of our own actions and also includes the mental processes involved in anticipating, predicting and interpreting the actions of others Perception-Action Cycles Perception-action cycle involves the transformation of perceived patterns into co-ordinated patterns of movement i.e. we perceive the situation and based on the perception execute our actions. We move to perceive and perceive so that we can move Perception not only helps us examine objects and events but also provides us with guidance and feedback of the movement therefore, helps us recognize which movements are helpful and which are not Perception and action are mutually interdependent and motor cognition involves the interaction of them. Perception and action share their mental representations The content of perceptions (i.e. analyzing the situation) and intentions (mental plans designed to achieve a goal through action) involve perceptual and motor systems The Nature of Motor Processing in the Brain Motor cognition involves 3 main motor areas: i. Supplementary motor area (SMA); involves setting up and executing action plans. ii. Premotor area (PM); is involved in setting up programs for specific sequences of actions and sends the input to the motor area iii. Motor Area (M1); neurons in this area control fine motor movements and send the fibers out of the brain to the muscles 1 The three motor areas are believed to lie in a hierarchy with M1 at the bottom and SMA at the top. SMA is involved in planning most complex movements, premotor area is involved in less precisely specified sets of movements and M1 is responsible for exact specific movements. A study was conducted to determine the difference between performing a task and thinking about a task. In this study, monkeys were shown a specific sequence of lights and they were directed to press the lights as they appear (visually triggered action situation) or remember the sequence and press it without visual guidance (internally triggered action situation). The activity of M1, premotor area and SMA was recorded: i. M1 neurons showed similar activity in both conditions since the same movements were produced in both conditions ii. SMA neurons were more active in the internally triggered situation during the pre- movement and movement period indicating that the formulation of plan involves SMA iii. PM neurons were more active in the visually triggered situation in the pre-movement and movement period indicating that this area is involved in setting up specific movement sequences. Therefore, we know that formulating a plan in advance and organization of movement requires SMA and responding to an environmental cue and preparation of an exact action requires premotor area Also, the 3 motor areas interact in complex ways and there is no particular one direction of the flow of information Prefrontal cortex is involved in initiating a movement and temporal organization (i.e. holds the sequence of movements in a proper order) of action Cerebellum is involved in the temporal control (i.e. to maintain the order of movements in time and perform them in the correct sequence in time) of action sequences The role of shared representations Shared motor representations refer to our ability to mentally represent the actions made by other people. These representations that are at work when are observing someone performing a task are the same ones that we use when performing that task ourselves. By observing someone else perform a task, we can acquire the representations that can later help us perform that task ourselves. The notion of shared representation is critical when we communicate with someone else because using similar representations while communicating help us mutually understanding each other and see a situation from a similar perspective. Shared representations of meanings of words has become internalized in us and these shared motor representations help us interpret the actions of other people and thus respond appropriately 2Mental Simulation and the Motor System We can perform the task of reasoning in various ways. One specific way of reasoning means to form and transform mental images of action and observe the consequences of those actions. Motor imagery means to mentally simulate an action without actually producing it. IT is often better to perform motor imagery before actually producing an action. Motor imagery guides motor cognition and motor cognition affects motor imagery. Motor imagery involves programming and preparing actual actions without actually producing the action Motor Priming and Mental Representation Specific mental representations guide the mental simulations. Priming is an effect where watching an action facilitates its processing and we become more likely to perform the same motor response. When we observe the action we store the mental representation of how to perform the action and next time, to perform the action we make use of that same representation The effect of perception on motor production was tested whereby two balls were colliding and the participants were required to move an object with the speed of either object A or B. It was noticed that the speed with which participants moved the object was always affected by the speed of both balls. Therefore, when a stimulus is present we cant just ignore it Another study conducted involved display o
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