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Curr Biol. 2011 Jan 25;21(2):144-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.12.022. Epub 2011 Jan 13.

View-based encoding of actions in mirror neurons of area f5 in macaque premotor cortex.

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Department of Cognitive Neurology, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tübingen, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


Converging experimental evidence indicates that mirror neurons in the monkey premotor area F5 encode the goals of observed motor acts [1-3]. However, it is unknown whether they also contribute to encoding the perspective from which the motor acts of others are seen. In order to address this issue, we recorded the visual responses of mirror neurons of monkey area F5 by using a novel experimental paradigm based on the presentation of movies showing grasping motor acts from different visual perspectives. We found that the majority of the tested mirror neurons (74%) exhibited view-dependent activity with responses tuned to specific points of view. A minority of the tested mirror neurons (26%) exhibited view-independent responses. We conclude that view-independent mirror neurons encode action goals irrespective of the details of the observed motor acts, whereas the view-dependent ones might either form an intermediate step in the formation of view independence or contribute to a modulation of view-dependent representations in higher-level visual areas, potentially linking the goals of observed motor acts with their pictorial aspects.

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