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Individuals with mirror touch synaesthesia (MTS) experience touch on their own body when observing others being touched. A recent account proposes that such rare experiences could be linked to impairment in self-other representations. Here we tested participants with MTS on a battery of social cognition tests and found that compared to non-synaesthete controls, the MTS group showed impairment in imitation-inhibition but not in visual perspective taking or theory of mind. Although all of these socio-cognitive abilities rely on the control of self-other representations, they differ as to whether the self, or the other, should be preferentially represented. For imitation-inhibition, representations of the other should be inhibited and self-representations should be enhanced, whereas the opposite is true for visual perspective taking and theory of mind. These findings suggest that MTS is associated with a specific deficit in inhibiting representation of other individuals and shed light on the fractionability of processes underlying typical social cognition.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.cortex.2015.06.019

Type

Journal article

Journal

Cortex

Publication Date

10/2015

Volume

71

Pages

116 - 121

Keywords

Imitation inhibition, Mentalizing, Mirror-touch synaesthesia, Perspective taking, Self-other, Social cognition, Synaesthesia, Adult, Cognition, Ego, Female, Humans, Imitative Behavior, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Perceptual Disorders, Psychomotor Performance, Reaction Time, Social Behavior, Social Environment, Theory of Mind, Touch Perception