The power of simulation: imagining one's own and other's behavior

Brain Res. 2006 Mar 24;1079(1):4-14. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2005.12.115. Epub 2006 Feb 7.


A large number of cognitive neuroscience studies point to the similarities in the neural circuits activated during the generation, imagination, as well as observation of one's own and other's behavior. Such findings support the shared representations account of social cognition, which is suggested to provide the basic mechanism for social interaction. Mental simulation may also be a representational tool to understand the self and others. However, successfully navigating these shared representations--both within oneself and between individuals--constitutes an essential functional property of any autonomous agent. It will be argued that self-awareness and agency, mediated by the temporoparietal (TPJ) area and the prefrontal cortex, are critical aspects of the social mind. Thus, differences as well as similarities between self and other representations at the neural level may be related to the degrees of self-awareness and agency. Overall, these data support the view that social cognition draws on both domain-general mechanisms and domain-specific embodied representations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Imitative Behavior / physiology*
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Pain
  • Perception / physiology
  • Power, Psychological*