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Neuroimage. 1997 Nov;6(4):231-6.

Premotor cortex activation during observation and naming of familiar tools.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Positron emission tomography was used to investigate whether observation of real objects (tools of common use) activates premotor areas in the absence of any overt motor demand. Silent naming of the presented tools and silent naming of their use were also studied. Right-handed normal subjects were employed. Tool observation strongly activated the left dorsal premotor cortex. In contrast, silent tool naming activated Broca's area without additional activity in the dorsal premotor cortex. Silent tool-use naming, in addition to activating Broca's area, increased the activity in the left dorsal premotor cortex and recruited the left ventral premotor cortex and the left supplementary motor area. These data indicate that, even in the absence of any subsequent movement, the left premotor cortex processes objects that, like tools, have a motor valence. This dorsal premotor activation, which further augments when the subject names the tool use, should reflect the neural activity related to motor schemata for object use. The presence of an activation of both dorsal premotor cortex and ventral premotor cortex during tool-use naming suggests a role for these two areas in understanding object semantics.

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