Action understanding requires the left inferior frontal cortex.

Gorana Pobric, Antonia F de C Hamilton

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    Numerous studies have established that inferior frontal cortex is active when hand actions are planned, imagined, remembered, imitated, and even observed. Furthermore, it has been proposed that these activations reflect a process of simulating the observed action to allow it to be understood and thus fully perceived. However, direct evidence for a perceptual role for left inferior frontal cortex is rare, and linguistic or motor contributions to the reported activations have not been ruled out. We used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over inferior frontal gyrus during a perceptual weight-judgement task to test the hypothesis that this region contributes to action understanding. rTMS at this site impaired judgments of the weight of a box lifted by a person, but not judgements of the weight of a bouncing ball or of stimulus duration, and rTMS at control sites had no impact. This demonstrates that the integrity of left inferior frontal gyrus is necessary to make accurate perceptual judgments about other people's actions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)524-529
    Number of pages5
    JournalCurrent biology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2006


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