UCL Institute of Neurology


Dr J. Kilner

Action Understanding & Social Cognition

Lab. Head: D J. Kilner

My main area of research is human social interaction, specifically, the role of the motor system in our ability to infer the beliefs and intentions in others minds. My research includes theoretical work, human neuroimaging studies, both magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), behavioural studies and the analysis of single cell and local field potential (LFP) recordings recorded from the Macaque monkey. My theoretical work has addressed the question how are we able to infer intentions from an observed action. I have proposed a theoretical model in which the role of the motor system in inferring the goals of observed actions can be understood within a predictive coding framework where the motor system is active when observing an action because it is the best model of the observed action. I have employed MEG to demonstrate that activity in the motor cortex is modulated by both the kinematics of an observed action and the side of visual space that the observed action occurred. I have employed fMRI to provide evidence of mirror neurons in humans and to demonstrate that activity in the human inferior frontal gyrus functionally dissociates. Using behavioural measures I have shown that subjects are sensitive to subtle changes in the kinematics of an observed action and that subjects can correctly infer someone elses confidence based on the kinematics of their action. More recently I have analysed the firing pattern of macaque mirror-neurons and shown that mirror-neuron firing is modulated by repeated observation of the same action. I am also active in research on novel analyses of MEG and EEG datasets and have applied the statistical method of random field theory to neurophysiological data so that researchers are now able to report results with corrected statistics.

To find out more about my research, please visit: https://sites.google.com/site/kilnerlab/