From mirror neurons to conformity and back again: how imitation connects us with other people
Speaker: Dr Patric Bach, Plymouth University.
Conformity is typically seen as negative, enticing people to not step out of the crowd and take responsibility for their views and actions, and made responsible for acquiescence to authoritarian regimes.
Yet, recent research in cognitive neuroscience - specifically the discovery of mirror neurons in the macaque monkey - suggests that it might emerge from a very basic mechanism that underlies many of our social skills. People's knack for resonating with others can serve as an effective (but unconscious) tool for creating social connections. It might underlie our ability to imitate others and learn from their mistakes. Finally, it might allow us to attune ourselves to other people so that we can better emphasise with and sense their emotional states.
Patric will attempt to explain these behaviours, both negative and positive, in a common framework so that they can be understand as a separate facet of central mechanisms that makes humans the social creatures they are.
About the speaker
Dr Patric Bach was awarded his DPhil in Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute in Munich Germany in 2004. He has previously held a research post at Bangor University, Wales, and is now lecturer in Psychology at Plymouth University. He works at the intersection of social psychology and cognitive neuroscience. His interests range from unconscious imitation in social interaction, to how people can plan their own actions and understand those of others, and, recently, to hypnosis and related effects can take control of (willing) participants’ bodies.
This free event is open to all including BPS members, students and the general public. No booking required.
Email MemberNetworkServices@bps.org.uk for any queries with the subject heading 'South West Plymouth minor neurons May 2015'.