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Neuroimage. 2000 Sep;12(3):314-25.

Movement and mind: a functional imaging study of perception and interpretation of complex intentional movement patterns.

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Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AR, United Kingdom.


We report a functional neuroimaging study with positron emission tomography (PET) in which six healthy adult volunteers were scanned while watching silent computer-presented animations. The characters in the animations were simple geometrical shapes whose movement patterns selectively evoked mental state attribution or simple action description. Results showed increased activation in association with mental state attribution in four main regions: medial prefrontal cortex, temporoparietal junction (superior temporal sulcus), basal temporal regions (fusiform gyrus and temporal poles adjacent to the amygdala), and extrastriate cortex (occipital gyrus). Previous imaging studies have implicated these regions in self-monitoring, in the perception of biological motion, and in the attribution of mental states using verbal stimuli or visual depictions of the human form. We suggest that these regions form a network for processing information about intentions, and speculate that the ability to make inferences about other people's mental states evolved from the ability to make inferences about other creatures' actions.

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