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J Neurosci. 2003 Jul 30;23(17):6819-25.

Brain activity evoked by the perception of human walking: controlling for meaningful coherent motion.

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  • 1Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.

Abstract

Many functional neuroimaging studies of biological motion have used as stimuli point-light displays of walking figures and compared the resulting activations with those evoked by the same display elements moving in a random or noncoherent manner. Although these studies have established that biological motion activates the superior temporal sulcus (STS), the use of random motion controls has left open the possibility that coordinated and meaningful nonbiological motion might activate these same brain regions and thus call into question their specificity for processing biological motion. Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and an anatomical region-of-interest approach to test a hierarchy of three questions regarding activity within the STS. First, by comparing responses in the STS with animations of human and robot walking figures, we determined (1) that the STS is sensitive to biological motion itself, not merely to the superficial characteristics of the stimulus. Then we determined that the STS responds more strongly to biological motion (as conveyed by the walking robot) than to (2) a nonmeaningful but complex nonbiological motion (a disjointed mechanical figure) and (3) a complex and meaningful nonbiological motion (the movements of a grandfather clock). In subsequent whole-brain voxel-based analyses, we confirmed robust STS activity that was strongly right lateralized. In addition, we observed significant deactivations in the STS that differentiated biological and nonbiological motion. These voxel-based analyses also revealed regions of motion-related positive activity in other brain regions, including MT or V5, fusiform gyri, right premotor cortex, and the intraparietal sulci.

PMID:
12890776
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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