A comment on a review at Cognitive Daily:
This is really interesting in that it provides some evidence as to how factors relating to embodiment contribute to two agents' ability to share their intentions and engage in a shared activity. rtl, while I too love the mirror neurons, there's more to it then the activity of those cells. In general, there seems to be an elaborate coordination between two agents that incorporates salient aspects of the situated physical environment (e.g., the painting), as well as prior knowledge (the lecture in the second case). One other tremendously important factor, as hinted at in the beginning of the review, is the ability of each agent to assess the intentions of the other. If a listener is observing the speaker look at something, the listener's mirror neuron activity might predispose them to looking at the same thing, and thus give them a predictive stance on what the speaker intends, which is supported by the content of the speech. The shared attention given to the painting then, could be seen as emerging from the interaction between imitative behaviors, shared environmental cues, physical interactions, and assessments of salience in the environment. Very interesting stuff.