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Contorted and ordinary body postures in the human brain

Authors
Journal
Experimental Brain Research
0014-4819
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Volume
204
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00221-009-2093-x
Keywords
  • Research Article
Disciplines
  • Design

Abstract

Social interaction and comprehension of non-verbal behaviour requires a representation of people’s bodies. Research into the neural underpinnings of body representation implicates several brain regions including extrastriate and fusiform body areas (EBA and FBA), superior temporal sulcus (STS), inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and inferior parietal lobule (IPL). The different roles played by these regions in parsing familiar and unfamiliar body postures remain unclear. We examined the responses of this body observation network to static images of ordinary and contorted postures by using a repetition suppression design in functional neuroimaging. Participants were scanned whilst observing static images of a contortionist or a group of objects in either ordinary or unusual configurations, presented from different viewpoints. Greater activity emerged in EBA and FBA when participants viewed contorted compared to ordinary body postures. Repeated presentation of the same posture from different viewpoints lead to suppressed responses in the fusiform gyrus as well as three regions that are characteristically activated by observing moving bodies, namely STS, IFG and IPL. These four regions did not distinguish the image viewpoint or the plausibility of the posture. Together, these data define a broad cortical network for processing static body postures, including regions classically associated with action observation.

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