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Hum Mov Sci. 2007 Aug;26(4):590-616. Epub 2007 Aug 13.

Evidence for a distributed hierarchy of action representation in the brain.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Room 3837, Building 251, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, United States. grafton@psych.ucsb.edu

Abstract

Complex human behavior is organized around temporally distal outcomes. Behavioral studies based on tasks such as normal prehension, multi-step object use and imitation establish the existence of relative hierarchies of motor control. The retrieval errors in apraxia also support the notion of a hierarchical model for representing action in the brain. In this review, three functional brain imaging studies of action observation using the method of repetition suppression are used to identify a putative neural architecture that supports action understanding at the level of kinematics, object centered goals and ultimately, motor outcomes. These results, based on observation, may match a similar functional-anatomic hierarchy for action planning and execution. If this is true, then the findings support a functional-anatomic model that is distributed across a set of interconnected brain areas that are differentially recruited for different aspects of goal-oriented behavior, rather than a homogeneous mirror neuron system for organizing and understanding all behavior.

PMID:
17706312
PMCID:
PMC2042582
DOI:
10.1016/j.humov.2007.05.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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