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      Joint Action: Mental Representations, Shared Information and General Mechanisms for Coordinating with Others

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          In joint action, multiple people coordinate their actions to perform a task together. This often requires precise temporal and spatial coordination. How do co-actors achieve this? How do they coordinate their actions toward a shared task goal? Here, we provide an overview of the mental representations involved in joint action, discuss how co-actors share sensorimotor information and what general mechanisms support coordination with others. By deliberately extending the review to aspects such as the cultural context in which a joint action takes place, we pay tribute to the complex and variable nature of this social phenomenon.

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          Most cited references 62

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          Understanding and sharing intentions: the origins of cultural cognition.

          We propose that the crucial difference between human cognition and that of other species is the ability to participate with others in collaborative activities with shared goals and intentions: shared intentionality. Participation in such activities requires not only especially powerful forms of intention reading and cultural learning, but also a unique motivation to share psychological states with others and unique forms of cognitive representation for doing so. The result of participating in these activities is species-unique forms of cultural cognition and evolution, enabling everything from the creation and use of linguistic symbols to the construction of social norms and individual beliefs to the establishment of social institutions. In support of this proposal we argue and present evidence that great apes (and some children with autism) understand the basics of intentional action, but they still do not participate in activities involving joint intentions and attention (shared intentionality). Human children's skills of shared intentionality develop gradually during the first 14 months of life as two ontogenetic pathways intertwine: (1) the general ape line of understanding others as animate, goal-directed, and intentional agents; and (2) a species-unique motivation to share emotions, experience, and activities with other persons. The developmental outcome is children's ability to construct dialogic cognitive representations, which enable them to participate in earnest in the collectivity that is human cognition.
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            The functional role of the parieto-frontal mirror circuit: interpretations and misinterpretations.

            The parieto-frontal cortical circuit that is active during action observation is the circuit with mirror properties that has been most extensively studied. Yet, there remains controversy on its role in social cognition and its contribution to understanding the actions and intentions of other individuals. Recent studies in monkeys and humans have shed light on what the parieto-frontal cortical circuit encodes and its possible functional relevance for cognition. We conclude that, although there are several mechanisms through which one can understand the behaviour of other individuals, the parieto-frontal mechanism is the only one that allows an individual to understand the action of others 'from the inside' and gives the observer a first-person grasp of the motor goals and intentions of other individuals.
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              Towards the neurobiology of emotional body language.

              People's faces show fear in many different circumstances. However, when people are terrified, as well as showing emotion, they run for cover. When we see a bodily expression of emotion, we immediately know what specific action is associated with a particular emotion, leaving little need for interpretation of the signal, as is the case for facial expressions. Research on emotional body language is rapidly emerging as a new field in cognitive and affective neuroscience. This article reviews how whole-body signals are automatically perceived and understood, and their role in emotional communication and decision-making.

                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                04 January 2017
                : 7
                1Department of Cognitive Science, Central European University (CEU) Budapest, Hungary
                2Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies and Donders Center for Cognition, Radboud University Nijmegen Nijmegen, Netherlands
                3School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm, Sweden
                4Department of Communication and Economics, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (UNIMORE) Reggio Emilia, Italy
                5School of Psychology, University of Birmingham Birmingham, UK
                6Institute of Sports Science, Leibniz University of Hannover Hannover, Germany
                7Faculty of Psychology, University of Vienna Vienna, Austria
                8School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver, BC, Canada
                9Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen Nijmegen, Netherlands
                10Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrück Osnabrück, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Anna M. Borghi, University of Bologna, Italy

                Reviewed by: Patric Bach, Plymouth University, UK; Luisa Sartori, Università di Roma, Italy

                *Correspondence: Basil Wahn, bwahn@ 123456uos.de

                This article was submitted to Cognition, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2017 Vesper, Abramova, Bütepage, Ciardo, Crossey, Effenberg, Hristova, Karlinsky, McEllin, Nijssen, Schmitz and Wahn.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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