Mirror-touch synaesthesia: Difficulties inhibiting the other.

Santiesteban, Idalmis; Bird, Geoffrey; Tew, Oliver; Cioffi, Maria Cristina and Banissy, Michael J.. 2015. Mirror-touch synaesthesia: Difficulties inhibiting the other. Cortex, 71, pp. 116-121. ISSN 0010-9452 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Individuals with mirror touch synaesthesia (MTS) experience touch on their own body when observing others being touched. A recent account proposes that such rare experiences could be linked to impairment in self-other representations. Here we tested participants with MTS on a battery of social cognition tests and found that compared to non-synaesthete controls, the MTS group showed impairment in imitation-inhibition but not in visual perspective taking or theory of mind. Although all of these socio-cognitive abilities rely on the control of self-other representations, they differ as to whether the self, or the other, should be preferentially represented. For imitation-inhibition, representations of the other should be inhibited and self-representations should be enhanced, whereas the opposite is true for visual perspective taking and theory of mind. These findings suggest that MTS is associated with a specific deficit in inhibiting representation of other individuals and shed light on the fractionability of processes underlying typical social cognition.

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This work was supported by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studentship [ES/H013504/1] awarded to I.S. and by grants awarded by the ESRC [ES/K00882X/1] and BIAL Foundation [74/12] to M.J.B. G.B. contributed to this project while a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Mirror-touch synaesthesia; Synaesthesia; Self-other; Social cognition; Imitation inhibition; Perspective taking; Mentalizing

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October 2015Published
2 July 2015Published Online
22 June 2015Accepted

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Date Deposited:

08 Nov 2016 13:03

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:21



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