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Curr Biol. 2013 Sep 23;23(18):1764-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Sep 5.

A shared representation of the space near oneself and others in the human premotor cortex.

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Brain, Body and Self Laboratory, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 17177 Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address:


Interactions between people require shared high-level cognitive representations of action goals, intentions, and mental states, but do people also share their representation of space? The human ventral premotor (PMv) and parietal cortices contain neuronal populations coding for the execution and observation of actions, analogous to the mirror neurons identified in monkeys. This neuronal system is tuned to the location of the acting person relative to the observer and the target of the action. Therefore, it can be theorized that the observer's brain constructs a low-level, body-centered representation of the space around others similar to one's own peripersonal space representation. Single-cell recordings have reported that parietal visuotactile neurons discharge for objects near specific parts of a monkey's own body and near the corresponding body parts of another individual. In humans, no neuroimaging study has investigated this issue. Here, we identified neuronal populations in the human PMv that encode the space near both one's own hand and another person's hand. The shared peripersonal space representation could support social interactions by coding sensory events, actions, and cognitive processes in a common spatial reference frame.

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