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Neurocognitive mechanisms of body representation & action prediction

Abad-Hernando, S. (2023). Neurocognitive mechanisms of body representation & action prediction. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis aims to provide a comprehensive and integrative understanding of how our brain constructs reality by unifying perspectives on attention, perception, and working memory. By investigating how we process biological information and the impact of movement, it embraces embodiment theory to highlight the role of physical presence in action comprehension. Shared neural substrates underpinning body and movement perception support both motor and social functions, with attention acting as a regulatory mechanism that integrates sensory input and cognitive expectations into a coherent experience. Working memory, engaging common neural pathways in perception and memory, plays a crucial role in maintaining high-fidelity body representations. An EEG experiment was implemented to explore how top-down attentional mechanisms modulate the maintenance of body-related images in working memory. This study reveals that attentional modulation enhances persistent activity in relevant sensory areas during memory tasks, suggesting a significant role for top-down control in maintaining high-fidelity body representations. Additionally, the thesis investigates action prediction as a multidimensional process informed by sensorimotor experiences, social knowledge, and contextual cues. It emphasizes prediction error as a key mechanism in the continuous adjustment of cognitive models, calling for an integrative perspective to fully understand its complexity. Lastly, a series of behavioural studies reveal that perceptual-motor fluency significantly facilitates action prediction, underscoring the interplay between perceptual and motor systems. Furthermore, research into aesthetic preferences indicates that individual differences in aesthetic appreciation can predict performance in action prediction tasks, highlighting the subjective aspects of perceptual-motor integration.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
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