Role of Broca's area in encoding sequential human actions: a virtual lesion study

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The exact contribution of Broca's area to motor cognition is still controversial. Here we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (5 Hz, five pulses) to interfere transiently with the function of left BA44 in 13 healthy individuals; the task consisted of reordering human actions or nonbiological events based on three pictures presented on a computer screen and extracted from a video showing the entire sequence beforehand. We found that a virtual lesion of left BA44 impairs individual performance only for biological actions, and more specifically for object-oriented syntactic actions. Our finding provides evidence that Broca's area plays a crucial role in encoding complex human movements, a process which may be crucial for understanding and/or programming actions.

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