Cognitive Studies: Bulletin of the Japanese Cognitive Science Society
Online ISSN : 1881-5995
Print ISSN : 1341-7924
ISSN-L : 1341-7924
Research Papers
Imitation inhibition and facial expression recognition: Imitation-inhibition training inhibits the impact of interference with facial mimicry
Naoyoshi MatsudaMasaki O. Abe
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2022 Volume 29 Issue 4 Pages 587-594


Imitation-inhibition training, requiring the inhibition of automatic imitative tendencies, has been proposed to enhance self-other distinction. Previous studies have demonstrated the effect of imitation-inhibition training in the improvement of one’s ability to not only understand others’ visual perspectives but also to empathize with them. We investigated the relationship between training and empathy in the recognition of others’ emotional states. All participants were trained on the first day and completed the self-reported empathy and facial expression recognition task the next day. The task consisted of a facial mimicry restricted block and an unrestricted block. In the restricted block, participants had to hold chopsticks horizontally with their mouths, which interfered with facial mimicry. The facial muscle activity and facial stimuli of participants were different in the restricted block. We found that imitation-inhibition training increased self-reported empathy. With respect to facial expression recognition, the performance of the control group declined due to interference with facial mimicry, while that of the imitation-inhibition training group did not. These results suggest that imitation-inhibition training increases self-reported empathy and allows for a similar level of recognition of others’ emotional states, regardless of discrepancies between the condition of self and others.

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© 2022 Japanese Cognitive Science Society
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