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Neural basis for understanding intention of others

Inferior parietal lobule (IPL) neurons were studied when monkeys performed motor acts embedded in different actions and when they observed similar acts done by an experimenter.

Most motor IPL neurons coding a specific act (e.g., grasping) showed markedly different activations when this act was part of different actions (e.g., for eating or for placing). Many motor IPL neurons also discharged during the observation of acts done by others.

Most responded differentially when the same observed act was embedded in a specific action. These neurons fired during the observation of an act, before the beginning of the subsequent acts specifying the action. Thus, these neurons not only code the observed motor act but also allow the observer to understand the agent's intentions.

The data have been published in Science, 2005, 308: 662-667.

Reported by

University of Parma
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43100 Parma
Italy
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