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Where and how our brain represents the temporal structure of observed action

Research group Gazzola
Publication year 2018
Published in NeuroImage
Authors R.M. Thomas, T De Sanctis, V. Gazzola, Christian Keysers

Reacting faster to the behaviour of others provides evolutionary advantages. Reacting to unpredictable events takes hundreds of milliseconds. Understanding where and how the brain represents what actions are likely to follow one another is, therefore, important. Everyday actions occur in predictable sequences, yet neuroscientists focus on how brains respond to unexpected, individual motor acts. Using fMRI, we show the brain encodes sequence-related information in the motor system. Using EEG, we show visual responses are faster and smaller for predictable sequences. We hope this paradigm encourages the field to shift its focus from single acts to motor sequences. It sheds light on how we adapt to the actions of others and suggests that the motor system may implement perceptual predictive coding.

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