Sharing motor plans while acting jointly: a TMS study
- 1Neurophysiology Lab, IRCCS Istituto Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy; Cognition in Action (CIA) Unit - PHILAB, Department of Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy
- 2Neurophysiology Lab, IRCCS Istituto Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy
- 3Department of Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy
- 4Cognition in Action (CIA) Unit - PHILAB, Department of Philosophy, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy.
Published 05 Jan. 2022 | License Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Public Domain Dedication
When acting together, we may represent not only our own individual goals but also a collective goal. Although behavioural evidence suggests that agents' motor plans might be related to collective goals, direct neurophysiological evidence of whether collective goals are motorically represented is still scarce. The aim of the present transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) study is to begin to fill this gap. A participant and a confederate were asked to sequentially perform a two-choice reaction time task by acting on pressure sensors. In their own turn, they saw a cue indicating whether to lift their fingers from (or to press them on) a pressure sensor to shoot a ball across the screen as fast as possible. The confederate responded with the right hand, the participant with the left hand. While the confederate acted on the sensor, the participant's motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were collected from the right Extensor Carpi Ulnaris. If participants represent their own and the confederate's actions as being directed to a collective goal, MEPs amplitude should be modulated according to the action the confederate should perform. To test this conjecture, we contrasted three conditions: a Joint condition, in which both players worked together with their collective goal being to shoot the ball to get it to a common target, a Parallel condition, in which the players performed exactly the same task but received independent outcomes for their performance, and a Competitive condition, in which the outcome of the game still depended on the other player performance, but without the collective goal feature. Results showed no MEPs modulation according to confederate's action in the Joint condition. Post-hoc exploratory analyses both provide some hints about this negative finding and also suggest possible improvements (i.e. adopting a different dependent variable, avoiding task-switching between conditions) for testing our hypothesis that collective goal can be represented motorically.
Keywords| Joint action | Motor representation | TMS | Motor Evoked Potentials | Registered report | Social Neuroscience |
- Bortoletto M (2021) Sharing motor plans while acting jointly: a TMS study. OSF. https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/HJVCM
- The Bial Foundation, grant number 144/2018
- The Italian Ministry of Health, "Ricerca corrente"
- The Department of Philosophy 'Piero Martinetti' of the University of Milan with the Project "Departments of Excellence 2018-2022" awarded by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) (to GB and CS)
- The PRIN 2017 project "The cognitive neuroscience of interpersonal coordination and cooperation: a motor approach in humans and non-human primates", Cod. Prog. 201794KEER (to CS)