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Associative (not Hebbian) learning and the mirror neuron system

Cooper, R.P., Cook, R., Dickinson, A. and Heyes, C.M. (2012). Associative (not Hebbian) learning and the mirror neuron system. NEUROSCIENCE LETTERS, 540, pp. 28-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.10.002

Abstract

The associative sequence learning (ASL) hypothesis suggests that sensorimotor experience plays an inductive role in the development of the mirror neuron system, and that it can play this crucial role because its effects are mediated by learning that is sensitive to both contingency and contiguity. The Hebbian hypothesis proposes that sensorimotor experience plays a facilitative role, and that its effects are mediated by learning that is sensitive only to contiguity. We tested the associative and Hebbian accounts by computational modelling of automatic imitation data indicating that MNS responsivity is reduced more by contingent and signalled than by non-contingent sensorimotor training (Cook, Press, Dickinson, & Heyes, 2010). Supporting the associative account, we found that the reduction in automatic imitation could be reproduced by an existing interactive activation model of imitative compatibility when augmented with Rescorla-Wagner learning, but not with Hebbian or quasi-Hebbian learning. The work argues for an associative, but against a Hebbian, account of the effect of sensorimotor training on automatic imitation. We argue, by extension, that associative learning is potentially sufficient for MNS development.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Neuroscience Letters. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as editing, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in NEUROSCIENCE LETTERS, VOL 540, 9th October 2012 DOI 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.10.002
Publisher Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Neurosciences, Neurosciences & Neurology, NEUROSCIENCES, Automatic imitation, Associative learning, Hebbian learning, Mirror neuron system, Interactive activation, Computational model, AUTOMATIC IMITATION, PREMOTOR CORTEX, EXPERIENCE, CONTINGENCY, NETWORKS
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/4540
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