Di Paolo E. A. & De Jaegher H. (2012) The interactive brain hypothesis. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6: 163. https://cepa.info/761
The interactive brain hypothesis.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6: 163.
Fulltext at https://cepa.info/761
Enactive approaches foreground the role of interpersonal interaction in explanations of social understanding. This motivates, in combination with a recent interest in neuroscientific studies involving actual interactions, the question of how interactive processes relate to neural mechanisms involved in social understanding. We introduce the Interactive Brain Hypothesis (IBH) in order to map the spectrum of possible relations between social interaction and neural processes. The hypothesis states that interactive experience and skills play enabling roles in both the development and current function of social brain mechanisms, even in the absence of immediate interaction. We examine the plausibility of this hypothesis against developmental and neurobiological evidence and contrast it with the widespread assumption that mindreading is crucial to all social cognition. We describe the elements of social interaction that bear most directly on this hypothesis and discuss the empirical possibilities open to social neuroscience. The link between coordination dynamics and social understanding can be grasped by studying transitions between coordination states. These transitions form part of the self-organization of interaction processes that characterize the dynamics of social engagement. The patterns of this self-organization help explain how individuals understand each other. Various possibilities for role-taking emerge during interaction, determining a spectrum of participation. This view contrasts sharply with the observational stance that has guided research in social neuroscience until recently. We also introduce the concept of readiness to interact to describe the practices and dispositions that are summoned in situations of social significance. Relevance: The paper derives in explicit form some of the empirical neuroscientific implications of the enactive approach to intersubjectivity.