Understanding others’ action sequences and integrating this information in trait inferences about a person, is a crucial function to engage in social adaptive behavior. Recent neuroimaging research has revealed the significant role of the posterior cerebellum in learning the sequence of social actions and social mentalizing (i.e. inferences about other person’s mental states or traits based on their actions). In this project, I want to explore the role of cerebellar and cortical brain areas in learning and integrating the correct sequences of others’ actions as well as their implied traits. We assume that observers are often aware of action sequences and their implications. We hypothesize that these metacognitive awareness processes (knowing about knowing) and trait inference processes show considerable functional and neural overlap. Thus, it is highly plausible that the neural processes and networks involved in inferring others’ action sequences and traits are similar, and also similar to those controlling our own actions and thoughts. In sum, I explore the communality and differences between metacognitive and mentalizing neural processes.
Frank Van Overwalle