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Title: The control of automatic imitation : neural mechanisms and individual differences
Author: Darda, Kohinoor Monish
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 5577
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2019
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Automatic imitation, or an involuntary tendency to imitate others, is a ubiquitous behaviour that is central to our interactions in the social world. Despite centuries of interest in this phenomenon from philosophers and scientists across different disciplines, many open questions still remain. The current thesis employs approaches from cognitive psychology and social cognitive neuroscience to elucidate the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms of the control of automatic imitation and how these mechanisms vary as a function of individual differences. The first empirical chapter (Chapter 2) uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) across two experiments in order to investigate whether specialised or generalised neural mechanisms underlie the control of automatic imitation. The second empirical chapter (Chapter 3) synthesises and meta-analyses extant neuroimaging literature in order to identify brain regions that are consistently activated across fMRI studies investigating automatic imitation. In Chapter 4, multiple large-sample behavioural approaches are employed to investigate the relationship between individual differences (stable personality traits and biological sex) and social (imitative) control and non-social control. Overall, the results from this thesis unequivocally support the engagement of a domain-general neural network in the control of automatic imitation, and a reduced or altered role for domain-specific processes. More generally, these findings suggest that models of social cognition need to place greater emphasis on the role of domain-general processes, and the interactions between domain-specific and domain-general processes, instead of focusing only on domain-specificity. Further, the control of automatic imitation is largely invariant to stable traits of personality and biological sex. However, the cognitive and neural underpinnings of individual differences in social and non-social control are more complex than what has been previously conceived. In sum, the current findings have important implications for and shed new light on the methodological and theoretical debates surrounding automatic imitation as well as social cognition.
Supervisor: Ramsey, Richard ; Downing, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: imitation ; social cognition ; automatic imitation ; individual differences ; social cognitive neuroscience ; meta-analysis ; personality ; imitation inhibition ; fMRI ; domain-specificity ; domain-generality