Activation in posterior superior temporal sulcus parallels parameter inducing the percept of animacy

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Abstract

An essential, evolutionarily stable feature of brain function is the detection of animate entities, and one of the main cues to identify them is their movement. We developed a model of a simple interaction between two objects, in which an increase of the correlation between their movements varied the amount of interactivity and animacy observers attributed to them. Functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed that activation in the posterior superior temporal sulcus and gyrus (pSTS/pSTG) increased in relation to the degree of correlated motion between the two objects. This activation increase was not different when subjects performed an explicit or implicit task while observing these interacting objects. These data suggest that the pSTS and pSTG play a role in the automatic identification of animate entities, by responding directly to an objective movement characteristic inducing the percept of animacy, such as the amount of interactivity between two moving objects.

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Schultz, J., Friston, K. J., O’Doherty, J., Wolpert, D. M., & Frith, C. D. (2005). Activation in posterior superior temporal sulcus parallels parameter inducing the percept of animacy. Neuron, 45(4), 625–635. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2004.12.052

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