Please wait a minute...
Acta Psychologica Sinica    2020, Vol. 52 Issue (6) : 682-693     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00682
Reports of Empirical Studies |
Contextual modulation of action interpretation: Automatic integration of situational contexts during action understanding
YANG Yisong, LIN Jing, HE Xiaoyan, YIN Jun()
Department of Psychology, Ningbo University; Center of Group Behavior and Social Psychological Service, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, China
Download: PDF(1990 KB)   HTML Review File (1 KB) 
Export: BibTeX | EndNote | Reference Manager | ProCite | RefWorks    
Abstract  

Action understanding enables us to predict others' actions and interact with them smoothly; however, its impairment makes patients unable to take care of themselves leading to cases such as autism. Despite the central importance of action understanding, the cognitive mechanisms involved in it remain highly controversial. Two alternative accounts have been advanced. Simulation theory assumes that we understand actions by simulating the observed behavior through a direct matching process, which has been suggested to usually activate the mirror-neuron circuit. The alternative interpretive account (i.e., theory) assumes that action understanding is based on specialized inferential processes, in which a goal is assigned to an action by evaluating its efficiency as an optimal means of obtaining the goal within the specific constraints of the situation. Each account was supported by previous studies, but due to mythological drawbacks, the evidence can be explained by both accounts. Hence, it remains unclear how action understanding is implemented in our cognition.

The simulation theory claims that action understanding is sensitive to minor differences in the kinematics of actions, and the theory emphasizes the role of contextual information in action understanding. Namely, according to the theory, even for identical actions, contextual information modulates action understanding. Hence, to examine which account is involved in action understanding, we created a chasing action wherein a chaser pursues a movable target, but the chasing action occurred in different contexts. Specifically, in a constrained context, the chaser had to bypass the obstacles to approach the target, and the chaser's action was efficient in catching the target, while in an unconstrained context, the obstacles were removed but the chaser still implemented the same action as in the constrained context. All actions lasted for 3 seconds. In both contexts, the chaser and the target had exactly the same kinematics, but were assigned different goals if the inferential process is involved. To identify the outcome of action understanding, we measured μ suppression (electroencephalogram oscillations within the 8-13 Hz range in the sensorimotor regions; namely, C3 and C4 channels) related to action understanding. Participants were asked to count the fillers (i.e., incomplete chasing action) when watching actions presented on the screen.

It was found that the chasing action occurred in the constrained context (M = -1.955 μV2) induced more μ suppression than the action occurred in the unconstrained context (M = -1.913 μV2), but in both contexts, the evaluated familiarity for them was not significantly different (Experiment 1). Importantly, the occipital α with the same frequency band as μ was not modulated by the contextual information, but this component was suggested to be functional with the attentional mechanisms. In Experiment 2, to further test whether the effect in Experiment 1 was specific to the inferential process, the target was set to be still but the chaser still moved in the same way, which cannot be attributed to an analytical goal. In this case, the possible simulation difference between constrained and unconstrained contexts when the target was still was almost the same as when the target was moving; however, we found that the difference in μ suppression between constrained and unconstrained contexts was insignificant.

Our findings showed that contextual information modulates μ suppression, suggesting that the action understanding is sensitive to the context, and the assigned goal for the actions depends on the contextual information. Hence, our findings support the assumption that action understanding is primarily mediated by an inferential interpretive system rather than a simulation process.

Keywords action understanding      chasing action      context      simulation theory      theory theory      μ suppression     
PACS:  B842  
Corresponding Authors: Jun YIN     E-mail: yinjun1@nbu.edu.cn
Issue Date: 22 April 2020
Service
E-mail this article
E-mail Alert
RSS
Articles by authors
Yisong YANG
Jing LIN
Xiaoyan HE
Jun YIN
Cite this article:   
Yisong YANG,Jing LIN,Xiaoyan HE, et al. Contextual modulation of action interpretation: Automatic integration of situational contexts during action understanding[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2020, 52(6): 682-693.
URL:  
http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00682     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2020/V52/I6/682
  
  
脑电指标 实验1: 追逐者和目标物均运动 实验2: 追逐者运动但目标物静止
有约束的情境 无约束的情境 有约束的情境 无约束的情境
顶叶μ -1.955 (0.565) -1.913 (0.564) -1.929 (0.559) -1.936 (0.569)
顶叶β -0.093 (0.026) -0.076 (0.030) -0.084 (0.028) -0.082 (0.028)
枕叶α -3.782 (1.135) -3.771 (1.138) -3.761 (1.132) -3.749 (1.133)
  
  
  
[1] Amoruso, L., & Urgesi, C . (2016). Contextual modulation of motor resonance during the observation of everyday actions. Neuroimage, 134, 74-84.
[2] Baker, C. L., Saxe, R., & Tenenbaum, J. B . (2009). Action understanding as inverse planning. Cognition, 113(3), 329-349.
[3] Barrett, H. C., Todd, P. M., Miller, G. F., & Blythe, P.W . (2005). Accurate judgments of intention from motion cues alone: A cross-cultural study. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26(4), 313-331.
[4] Blakemore, S. J., & Decety, J . (2001). From the perception of action to the understanding of intention. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2(8), 561-567.
[5] Brainard, D. H . (1997). The psychophysics toolbox. Spatial Vision, 10(4), 433-436.
[6] Brass, M., Schmitt, R. M., Spengler, S., & Gergely, G . (2007). Investigating action understanding: Inferential processes versus action simulation. Current Biology, 17(24), 2117-2121.
[7] Brown, E. C., Wiersema, J. R., Pourtois, G., & Brüne, M . (2013). Modulation of motor cortex activity when observing rewarding and punishing actions. Neuropsychologia, 51(1), 52-58.
[8] Carter Leno, V., Vitoratou, S., Kent, R., Charman, T., Chandler, S., Jones, C. R., ... Simonoff, E . (2019). Exploring the neurocognitive correlates of challenging behaviours in young people with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 23(5), 1152-1164.
[9] Cavallo, A., Koul, A., Ansuini, C., Capozzi, F., & Becchio, C . (2016). Decoding intentions from movement kinematics. Scientific Reports, 6, 37036.
[10] Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A . (1999). The chameleon effect: The perception-behavior link and social interaction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(6), 893-910.
[11] Cracco, E., de Coster, L., Andres, M., & Brass, M . (2016). Mirroring multiple agents: motor resonance during action observation is modulated by the number of agents. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(9), 1422-1427.
[12] Csibra, G . (2007). Action mirroring and action understanding: An alternative account. In: P. Haggard, Y. Rosetti, & M. Kawato (Eds.), Sensorimotor foundations of higher cognition (attention and performance XXII) (pp. 435-459). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[13] Csibra, G., Bíró, S., Koós, O., & Gergely, G . (2003). One-year- old infants use teleological representations of actions productively. Cognitive Science, 27(1), 111-133.
[14] Csibra, G., & Gergely, G . (2007). “Obsessed with goals”: Functions and mechanisms of teleological interpretation of actions in humans. Acta Psychologica, 124(1), 60-78.
[15] Cousineau, D., & O'Brien, F . (2014). Error bars in within- subject designs: A comment on Baguley (2012). Behavior Research Methods, 46(4), 1149-1151.
[16] Dijkerman, H. C., & Smit, M. C . (2007). Interference of grasping observation during prehension, a behavioural study. Experimental Brain Research, 176, 387-396.
[17] di Pellegrino, G., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., Gallese, V., & Rizzolatti, G . (1992). Understanding motor events: A neurophysiological study. Experimental Brain Research, 91(1), 176-180.
[18] Duan, J. P., Yang, Z. X., He, X. Y., Shao, M. X., & Yin, J . (2018). Automatic attribution of social coordination information to chasing scenes: Evidence from mu suppression. Experimental Brain Research, 236(1), 117-127.
[19] Fogassi, L., Ferrari, P. F., Gesierich, B., Rozzi, S., Chersi, F., & Rizzolatti, G . (2005). Parietal lobe: From action organization to intention understanding. Science, 308(5722), 662-667.
[20] Fox, N. A., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Yoo, K. H., Bowman, L. C., Cannon, E. N., Vanderwert, R. E., ... van Ijzendoorn, M. H . (2016). Assessing human mirror activity with EEG Mu rhythm: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 142(3), 291-313.
[21] Gallese, V., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., & Rizzolatti, G . (1996). Action recognition in the premotor cortex. Brain, 119(2), 593-609.
[22] Gallese, V., & Goldman, A . (1998) Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind reading. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2(12), 493-501.
[23] Gergely, G., Bekkering, H., & Király, I . (2002). Developmental psychology: Rational imitation in preverbal infants. Nature, 415(6873), 755.
[24] Gergely, G., & Csibra, G . (2003). Teleological reasoning in infancy: The naïve theory of rational action. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(7), 287-292.
[25] Hauser, M., & Wood, J . (2010). Evolving the capacity to understand actions, intentions, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 303-324.
[26] Heider, F., & Simmel, M . (1944). An experimental study of apparent behavior. The American Journal of Psychology, 57, 243-259.
[27] Hobson, H. M., & Bishop, D. V. M . (2016). Mu suppression-a good measure of the human mirror neuron system? Cortex, 82, 290-310.
[28] Iacoboni, M., Molnar-Szakacs, I., Gallese, V., Buccino, G., Mazziotta, J. C., & Rizzolatti, G . (2005). Grasping the intentions of others with one's own mirror neuron system. PLoS Biology, 3(3), e79.
[29] Iacoboni, M., Woods, R. P., Brass, M., Bekkering, H., Mazziotta, J. C., Rizzolatti, G . (1999). Cortical mechanisms of human imitation. Science, 286, 2526-2528.
[30] Jacob, P., & Jeannerod, M . (2005) The motor theory of social cognition: A critique. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9(1), 21-25.
[31] Jara-Ettinger, J., Gweon, H., Schulz, L. E., & Tenenbaum, J. B . (2016). The naïve utility calculus: Computational principles underlying commonsense psychology. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20(8), 589-604.
[32] Kamewari, K., Kato, M., Kanda, T., Ishiguro, H., & Hiraki, K . (2005). Six-and-a-half-month-old children positively attribute goals to human action and to humanoid-robot motion. Cognitive Development, 20(2), 303-320.
[33] Kilner, J. M., Paulignan, Y., & Blakemore, S. J . (2003). An interference effect of observed biological movement on action. Current Biology, 13( 6), 522-525.
[34] Klimesch, W., Sauseng, P., & Hanslmayr, S . (2007). EEG alpha oscillations: The inhibition-timing hypothesis. Brain Research Reviews, 53(1), 63-88.
[35] Klin, A., Jones, W., Schultz, R., & Volkmar, F . (2003). The enactive mind, or from actions to cognition: Lessons from autism. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 358(1430), 345-360.
[36] Koski, L., Wohlschläger, A., Bekkering, H., Woods, R. P., Dubeau, M. C., Mazziotta, J. C., & Iacoboni, M . (2002). Modulation of motor and premotor activity during imitation of target-directed actions. Cerebral Cortex, 12(8), 847-855.
[37] Koul, A., Cavallo, A., Cauda, F., Costa, T., Diano, M., Pontil, M., & Becchio, C . (2018). Action observation areas represent intentions from subtle kinematic features. Cerebral Cortex, 28(7), 2647-2654.
[38] Liepelt, R., Cramon, D. Y., & Brass, M . (2008). What is matched in direct matching? Intention attribution modulates motor priming. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 34(3), 578-591.
doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.34.3.578 url: http://doi.apa.org/getdoi.cfm?doi=10.1037/0096-1523.34.3.578
[39] Luo, Y. Y . (2011). Three-month-old infants attribute goals to a non-human agent. Developmental Science, 14(2), 453-460.
doi: 10.1111/desc.2011.14.issue-2 url: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/desc.2011.14.issue-2
[40] Maris, E., & Oostenveld, R . (2007). Nonparametric statistical testing of EEG-and MEG-data. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 164(1), 177-190.
[41] Marsh, L. E., Mullett, T. L., Ropar, D., & Hamilton, A. F. D. C . (2014). Responses to irrational actions in action observation and mentalising networks of the human brain. NeuroImage, 103, 81-90.
[42] Miller, S . (2001). Social action: A teleological account. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[43] Muthukumaraswamy, S. D., Johnson, B. W., & McNair, N. A . (2004). Mu rhythm modulation during observation of an object-directed grasp. Cognitive Brain Research, 19(2), 195-201.
[44] Natraj, N., Poole, V., Mizelle, J. C., Flumini, A., Borghi, A. M., & Wheaton, L. A . (2013). Context and hand posture modulate the neural dynamics of tool-object perception. Neuropsychologia, 51(3), 506-519.
[45] Onishi, K. H., Baillargeon, R., & Leslie, A. M . (2007). 15-month- old infants detect violations in pretend scenarios. Acta Psychologica, 124(1), 106-128.
[46] Perry, A., Stein, L., & Bentin, S . (2011). Motor and attentional mechanisms involved in social interaction—Evidence from mu and alpha EEG suppression. Neuroimage, 58(3), 895-904.
doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.06.060 url: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1053811911007063
[47] Pomiechowska, B., & Csibra, G . (2017). Motor activation during action perception depends on action interpretation. Neuropsychologia, 105, 84-91.
[48] Powell, L. J., & Spelke, E. S . (2013). Preverbal infants expect members of social groups to act alike. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(41), E3965-E3972.
[49] Rizzolatti, G., & Craighero, L . (2004) The mirror-neuron system. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 27(1), 169-192.
[50] Rizzolatti, G., Fogassi, L., & Gallese, V . (2001) Neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the understanding and imitation of action. Nature Review Neuroscience, 2(9), 661-670.
[51] Sommerville, J. A., Woodward, A. L., & Needham, A . (2005). Action experience alters 3-month-old infants' perception of others' actions. Cognition, 96(1), B1-B11.
[52] Southgate, V., & Csibra, G . (2009). Inferring the outcome of an ongoing novel action at 13 months. Developmental Psychology, 45(6), 1794-1798.
[53] Tangwiriyasakul, C., Verhagen, R., van Putten, M. J. A. M., & Rutten, W. L. C . (2013). Importance of baseline in event- related desynchronization during a combination task of motor imagery and motor observation. Journal of Neural Engineering, 10(2), 026009.
[54] Ullman, T. D., Baker, C. L., Macindoe, O., Evans, O., Goodman, N. D., & Tenenbaum, J. B . (2009). Help or hinder: Bayesian models of social goal inference. In Y. Bengio et al.(Eds.), Advances in neural information processing systems 22. Vancouver: NIPS Foundation.
[55] Ulloa, E. R., & Pineda, J. A . (2007). Recognition of point-light biological motion: Mu rhythms and mirror neuron activity. Behavioural Brain Research, 183(2), 188-194.
[56] Wellman, H. M., Cross, D., & Watson, J . (2001). Meta-analysis of theory-of-mind development: The truth about false belief. Child Development, 72(3), 655-684.
doi: 10.1111/cdev.2001.72.issue-3 url: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/cdev/72/3
[57] Ye, H. S . (2016). The significances of mirror neurons. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 48(4), 444-456.
doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.00444 url: http://118.145.16.229:81/Jweb_xlxb//CN/abstract/abstract14641.shtml
[57] [ 叶浩生 . (2016). 镜像神经元的意义. 心理学报, 48(4), 444-456.]
[58] Yin, J., Xu, H. K., Ding, X. W., Liang, J. Y., Shui, R. D., & Shen, M. W . (2016). Social constraints from an observer's perspective: Coordinated actions make an agent's position more predictable. Cognition, 151, 10-17.
doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.02.009 url: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0010027716300373
[1] SONG Shijie, ZUO Bin, WEN Fangang, TAN Xiao. The intergroup sensitivity effect and its behavioral consequences: The influence of group identification[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2020, 52(8): 993-1003.
[2] WU Yan,GAO Yuefei,ZHAO Simin,WANG Suiping. The effects of discourse context and world knowledge on pronoun resolution[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(3): 293-303.
[3] ZHU Shuqing,ZHAI Yu,JIA Shiwei. Local context dependence in feedback evaluation: An ERP study[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(11): 1198-1207.
[4] YANG Qun, WANG Yan, ZHANG Jijia. Effects of orthographic depth on Chinese word naming for Han and Uyghur students[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2019, 51(1): 1-13.
[5] Bonini Nicolao,Hadjichristidis Constantinos,Graffeo Michele. Green nudging[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(8): 814-826.
[6] Erjia XU, Xue SUI. Effects of predictability on the time course of identity information and location information in Chinese word recognition[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(6): 606-621.
[7] MA Jie, DOU Haoran, ZHUANG Qian, YIN Dongxue, LEI Ming, GAO Chao, ZHANG Yin, LIU Qiang, ZHAO Guang.  The mechanisms of contextual cuing effect based on objects’ topological properties[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(2): 143-157.
[8] CHEN Guangyao, HE Xianyou, LIU Tao.  The processing of negative sentences in different semantic context[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2018, 50(2): 186-196.
[9] BAI Lu, MAO Weibin, WANG Rui, Zhang Wenhai.  The effect of emotional scene and body expression on facial expression recognition[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(9): 1172-1183.
[10] KE Chunchun, NIE Aiqing, ZHANG Ruiqing.  The modulation of recall task on collaborative inhibition and error pruning: The influence of emotional valence and level of processing[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(6): 733-744.
[11] SUN Yusheng; ZHANG Zhijun; WU Binxing. The impact of contextual expectation on rapid natural scene recognition[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(5): 577-589.
[12] PENG Jian; WANG Xiao. I will perform effectively if you are with me: Leader-follower congruence in followership prototype, job engagement and job performance[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(9): 1151-1162.
[13] LIU Wenli; ZHOU Xiang; ZHANG Mingliang. Exploring the mechanisms of context effects in Chinese stop-vowel-stop sequences[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(9): 1057-1069.
[14] LIU Cong; JIAO Lu; SUN Xun; WANG Ruiming. Immediate effect of language switch on non-proficient bilinguals’ cognitive control components[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2016, 48(5): 472-481.
[15] CHEN Shuang; CHEN Lijing; YANG Xiaohong; YANG Yufang. The Role of Discourse Context on Semantic Integration[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2015, 47(2): 167-175.
Viewed
Full text


Abstract

Cited

  Shared   
  Discussed   
Copyright © Acta Psychologica Sinica
Support by Beijing Magtech