Neurocognitive Mechanisms of Human Social Interaction
Non-verbal social interactions are an important part of our daily lives. This talk focuses on two components of interaction – imitation and gaze – and asks how we use these behaviours, what neurocognitive models can account for the behaviours and why these behaviours differ in people with autism. I will describe a social-communication hypothesis of imitation, which claims that one reason people imitate is to send a social signal to another person. Data from a series of studies using traditional cognitive methods, virtual reality and augmented reality can provide support for this hypothesis. Finally, I will describe how new methods including motion capture, augmented reality and functional near-infrared spectroscopy are providing opportunities to capture and understand real-world social behaviour and the brain mechanisms involved.