The complementary nature of joint~individual action: neural correlates uncoordinated action and self-behavior


D. Benites, E. Tognoli, G. C. De Guzman, J. A. S. Kelso


In the framework of coordination dynamics, opponent pairs of concepts (e.g. self and other) may be formally viewed as complementary forces of a dynamical system (Kelso & Engstrom, 2007). These forces create rich behavior during which tendencies for integration and segregation co-exist. Integration of self- and other-behavior leads to cooperative action and togetherness; their segregation leads to loss of coordination and apartness. Whereas integration alone yields a restricted range of social behavior, the dynamics of integration-segregation (togetherness~apartness) allows for complex social behavior to arise. Accordingly, a complete understanding of joint action requires studying both coordinated and uncoordinated behavior, as well as their respective transitions. We recorded the EEG of pairs of people engaged in a task of intentional social coordination. We identified spatio-temporal patterns in continuous brain dynamics that were associated with loss of coordination. Results are discussed in relation to the concept of self, as an experience that emerges continuously in time (Hermans & Van Loon, 1992; Wiley, 1995). Besides its significance for understanding joint action, this study may shed light on the origin of the sense of identity, and further on conditions in which a predominant self-process brings about pathology (e.g. depression, schizophrenia, autism). [TIF].