Is perceptual anticipation a motor simulation? A PET study

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A large body of psychophysical evidence suggests that perception of human movement is constrained by the observer's motor competence. PET measurements of regional cerebral blood flow were performed in eight healthy subjects who were requested, in a forced-choice paradigm, to anticipate the outcome of a single moving dot trajectory depicting the beginning of either mechanical, pointing, or writing movements. Selective activation of the left premotor cortex and of the right intraparietal sulcus was associated with visual anticipation of pointing movements while the left frontal operculum and superior parietal lobule were found to be activated during anticipation of writing movements. These results are discussed in the perspective that the motor system is part of a simulation network, which is used to interpret perceived actions.

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