Simulating biological and non-biological motion

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It is widely accepted that the brain processes biological and non-biological movements in distinct neural circuits. Biological motion, in contrast to non-biological motion, refers to active movements of living beings. Aim of our experiment was to investigate the mechanisms underlying mental simulation of these two movement types. Subjects had to either simulate mentally or to overtly reproduce previously executed or observed movements. Healthy subjects showed a very high timing precision when simulating biological and a strong distortion when simulating non-biological movements. Schizophrenic subjects, however, showed the opposite. Since overt reproduction was precise in any case, this double dissociation shows that processes underlying mental simulation of biological and non-biological movements are separate from each other and from perceptual and motor-control processes.

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