A novel population of cells is described, located in the anterior part of the superior temporal sulcus (STSa, sometimes called STPa) of the temporal lobe in the macaque monkey. These cells respond selectively to the sight of reaching but only when the agent performing the action is seen to be attending to the target position of the reaching. We describe how such conditional selectivity can be generated from the properties of distinct cell populations within STSa. One cell population responds selectively to faces, eye gaze, and body posture, and we argue that subsets of these cells code for the direction of attention of others. A second cell population is selectively responsive to limb movement in certain directions (e.g., responding to an arm movement to the left but not to an equivalent leg movement or vice versa). The responses of a subset of cells sensitive to limb movement are modulated by the direction of attention (indicated by head and body posture of the agent performing the action). We conclude that this combined analysis of direction of attention and body movements supports the detection of intentional actions. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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