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Abstract: The evolving interaction with our peri-personal space and with the objects there contained is central to the development of spatial cognition, as the evolving interaction with other subjects is crucial to the development of social cognition. Different investigations across different disciplines have focused on the ability of individuals to relate among each others in a social context. Their studies have led to the concept of "social brain function", that in the last 20 years has been subject of intensive study by psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
Social cognition also refers to the ability to cooperate with a partner during a joint-action. In spite of a vast literature devoted to various aspects of social interactions, little is known on the neurophysiological mechanisms of social motor cooperation. In particular, the question of how in different areas of the cerebral cortex the neural activity associated to an action performed in a solo fashion is modulated by a cooperative joint-action is still unanswered. The seminar will illustrate the results of ongoing neurophysiological studies in alert behaving monkeys cooperating in a joint-action task. More specifically, results will be presented on how joint-action modulates neural activity related to solo performance in dorsal premotor and inferior parietal cortex in a variety of behavioural tasks where monkeys act in a solo fashion, observe the result of the same action performed by a partner, and act jointly toward a common goal.