Following during physically-coupled joint action engages motion area MT+/V5
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Interpersonal coordination during joint action depends on the perception of the partner's movements. In many such situations - for example, while moving furniture together or dancing a tango - there are kinesthetic interactions between the partners due to the forces shared between them that allow them to directly perceive one another's movements. Joint action of this type often involves a contrast between the roles of leader and follower, where the leader imparts forces onto the follower, and the follower has to be responsive to these force-cues during movement. We carried out a novel 2-person functional MRI study with trained couple dancers engaged in bimanual contact with an experimenter standing next to the bore of the magnet, where the two alternated between being the leader and follower of joint improvised movements, all with the eyes closed. One brain area that was unexpectedly more active during following than leading was the region of MT+/V5. While classically described as an area for processing visual motion, it has more recently been shown to be responsive to tactile motion as well. We suggest that MT+/V5 responds to motion based on force-cues during joint haptic interaction, most especially when a follower responds to force-cues coming from a leader's movements.
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