The left inferior parietal lobe represents stored hand-postures for object use and action prediction

Frontiers in Psychology 5:89785 (2014)
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Abstract

Action semantics enables us to plan actions with objects and to predict others' object-directed actions as well. Previous studies have suggested that action semantics are represented in a fronto-parietal action network that has also been implicated to play a role in action observation. In the present fMRI study it was investigated how activity within this network changes as a function of the predictability of an action involving multiple objects and requiring the use of action semantics. Participants performed an action prediction task in which they were required to anticipate the use of a centrally presented object that could be moved to an associated target object (e.g., hammer—nail). The availability of actor information (i.e., presenting a hand grasping the central object) and the number of possible target objects (i.e., 0, 1, or 2 target objects) were independently manipulated, resulting in different levels of predictability. It was found that making an action prediction based on actor information resulted in an increased activation in the extrastriate body area (EBA) and the fronto-parietal action observation network (AON). Predicting actions involving a target object resulted in increased activation in the bilateral IPL and frontal motor areas. Within the AON, activity in the left inferior parietal lobe (IPL) and the left premotor cortex (PMC) increased as a function of the level of action predictability. Together these findings suggest that the left IPL represents stored hand-postures that can be used for planning object-directed actions and for predicting other's actions as well.

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