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Soc Neurosci. 2008;3(1):60-8. doi: 10.1080/17470910701563442.

Rhesus monkeys' understanding of actions and goals.

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Harvard University, Department of Psychology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


A forced-choice social foraging method was used to explore how free-ranging rhesus monkeys make inferences about other individuals' goals and intentions. Subjects saw an experimenter perform an action towards one of two potential food sources, then were allowed to approach and choose one of those sources. Results showed that subjects selectively picked the food source targeted by the experimenter's action only when the action was within the rhesus' motor repertoire. Further studies explored the extent to which rhesus attend to the details of the goal as well as the means by which the goal was obtained, with results paralleling those obtained from cellular recordings of macaque mirror neurons. Monkeys' pattern of success and failure supports the hypothesis that motor areas play a functionally significant role in event parsing and action understanding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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