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Neuroimage. 2005 Oct 15;28(1):132-9. Epub 2005 Jul 18.

Listening to a walking human activates the temporal biological motion area.

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  • 1INSERM U280, IFNL, UCB-Lyon1, Centre Hospitalier Le Vinatier, Bron, France.


A vivid perception of a moving human can be evoked when viewing a few point-lights on the joints of an invisible walker. This special visual ability for biological motion perception has been found to involve the posterior superior temporal sulcus (STSp). However, in everyday life, human motion can also be recognized using acoustic cues. In the present study, we investigated the neural substrate of human motion perception when listening to footsteps, by means of a sparse sampling functional MRI design. We first showed an auditory attentional network that shares frontal and parietal areas previously found in visual attention paradigms. Second, an activation was observed in the auditory cortex (Heschl's gyrus and planum temporale), likely to be related to low-level sound processing. Most strikingly, another activation was evidenced in a STSp region overlapping the temporal biological motion area previously reported using visual input. We thus propose that a part of the STSp region might be a supramodal area involved in human motion recognition, irrespective of the sensory modality input.

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