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Minds Aligned: Perception and Action in Social Context

Dr. Natalie Sebanz

Tuesday, February 14, 2006, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

Rutgers University, Department of Psychology, Newark

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The ability to share mental representations is thought to be crucial for many social interactions. While symbolic communication and theory of mind provide important tools to align minds, recent research suggests that there are also more basic mechanisms of alignment based on a close link between perception and action. In my talk, I will present evidence that action goals and intentions can be inferred from observing others´┐Ż actions. Second, I will show that when acting in social context, individuals have a strong tendency to form shared representations of tasks. Finally, I will present data from studies with autistic patients todiscuss how the ability to form shared action and task representations is related to attributing more complex mental states to others. I will speculate about the kind of alignment processes needed for joint action.

Dr. Natalie Sebanz