Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain's action center is all talk

20.09.2006
Collaboration between USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley and Italian University finds strong mental link between actions and words

Neuroscience is tackling a problem that obsessed Hamlet: What is the difference in our minds between talk and action?

Less than you would expect, an international research group reports in the Sept. 19 issue of Current Biology.

The brain's premotor cortex shows the same activity pattern when subjects observe an action as when they hear words describing the same action, the study's authors said.

... more about:
»Aziz-Zadeh »Cortex »premotor

"If you hear the word 'grasp,' it's actually the premotor cortex that's active, not just a separate, abstract semantic area in the brain," said lead investigator Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, assistant professor of occupational sciences with a joint appointment in the Brain and Creativity Institute of the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

The premotor cortex has long been identified as a center of activity for actions. The notion that it could also process verbal descriptions of those actions has met some resistance.

"Neuroscience is coming around to this idea, but there hasn't been much data supporting it," Aziz-Zadeh said.

To change that, Aziz-Zadeh recruited 12 volunteers and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the same areas of the premotor cortex in the same subject as the person observed an action and heard language describing the action.

The premotor area involved during observation of a specific action, such as kicking, also lit up when the subject heard the corresponding word. This was the first study to make such a direct comparison, Aziz-Zadeh said.

Other studies found activity in the same areas during execution of an action, Aziz-Zadeh added, offering indirect evidence for the existence of "mirror neuron" systems that activate both when a person performs a task and when the person watches someone else perform the task.

"The study does demonstrate the intimate linkage between the way we talk about actions and the neural machinery that supports those actions. That's very intriguing," said USC University Professor Michael Arbib.

Arbib also noted the sharp difference between the subjects' responses to literal action statements (such as "biting the peach") and metaphorical actions ("biting off more than you can chew" or "kicking off").

"Metaphor seems not to activate the action areas as much as a direct action statement," he said, predicting that in future studies the premotor cortex will respond more strongly to novel images than to "frozen metaphors," otherwise known as clichés – a finding unlikely to floor anyone, knock their socks off or cause their jaw to drop.

Arbib carried out one of the first studies of mirror neurons in humans with Giacomo Rizzolatti of the Universita di Parma in Italy.

In 1998, he and Rizzolatti co-wrote "Language Within Our Grasp," a frequently cited article that proposed mirror neurons are involved in language. (Arbib also edited "From Action to Language Via the Mirror System," an upcoming book from Cambridge University Press.)

Rizzolatti, who discovered mirror neurons in 1996, collaborated with Aziz-Zadeh on her current study. The other co-authors are Stephen Wilson and Marco Iacoboni from UCLA.

Carl Marziali | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.usc.edu

Further reports about: Aziz-Zadeh Cortex premotor

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika

23.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>