Nonvisual motor learning influences abstract action observation

J. Reithler*, H.I. van Mier, J.C. Peters, R.W. Goebel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Neuroimaging studies have recently provided support for the existence of a human equivalent of the "mirror-neuron" system as first described in monkeys [1], involved in both the execution of movements as well as the observation and imitation of actions performed by others (e.g., [2-6]). A widely held conception concerning this system is that the understanding of observed actions is mediated by a covert simulation process [7]. In the present fMRI experiment, this simulation process was probed by asking subjects to discriminate between visually presented trajectories that either did or did not match previously performed but unseen continuous movement sequences. A specific network of learning-related premotor and parietal areas was found to be reactivated when participants were confronted with their movements' visual counterpart. Moreover, the strength of these reactivations was dependent on the observers' experience with executing the corresponding movement sequence. These findings provide further support for the emerging view that embodied simulations during action observation engage widespread activations in cortical motor regions beyond the classically defined mirror-neuron system. Furthermore, the obtained results extend previous work by showing experience-dependent perceptual modulations at the neural systems level based on nonvisual motor learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1207
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


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