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Conscious Cogn. 2013 Sep;22(3):1095-104. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2013.03.001. Epub 2013 Mar 30.

Neurophysiological bases underlying the organization of intentional actions and the understanding of others' intention.

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Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT), Brain Center for Motor and Social Cognition (BCMSC), via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma, Italy.


Philosophical and neuroscientific investigation on intentional actions focused on several different aspects, making difficult to define what should be meant with the concept of intention. Most of our everyday actions are constituted by complex and finely organized motor sequences, planned and executed in order to attain a desired final goal. In this paper, we will identify the final goal of the action as the motor intention of the acting individual. First, we will review the relative contribution of the vast neuroscientific literature on the role of different cortical areas in the organization of goal-directed movement. In particular, we will describe recent data on the cortical organization of natural action sequences, showing that this organization could be at the basis not only of our capacity of acting intentionally, but also of our ability to understand the motor intentions underlying others' behaviour which is crucial during social interactions.


Action organization; Mirror neurons; Monkey; Social cognition

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