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Continuous Theta-Burst Stimulation Demonstrates a Causal Role of Premotor Homunculus in Action Understanding

Michael, J; Sandberg, K; Skewes, J; Wolf, T; Blicher, J; Overgaard, M; Frith, CD; (2014) Continuous Theta-Burst Stimulation Demonstrates a Causal Role of Premotor Homunculus in Action Understanding. PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE , 25 (4) 963 - 972. 10.1177/0956797613520608. Green open access

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Abstract

Although it is well established that regions of premotor cortex (PMC) are active during action observation, it remains controversial whether they play a causal role in action understanding. In the experiment reported here, we used offline continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) to investigate this question. Participants received cTBS over the hand and lip areas of left PMC, in separate sessions, before completing a pantomime-recognition task in which half of the trials contained pantomimed hand actions, and half contained pantomimed mouth actions. The results reveal a double dissociation: Participants were less accurate in recognizing pantomimed hand actions after receiving cTBS over the hand area than over the lip area and less accurate in recognizing pantomimed mouth actions after receiving cTBS over the lip area than over the hand area. This finding constrains theories of action understanding by showing that somatotopically organized regions of PMC contribute causally to action understanding and, thus, that the mechanisms underpinning action understanding and action performance overlap.

Type: Article
Title: Continuous Theta-Burst Stimulation Demonstrates a Causal Role of Premotor Homunculus in Action Understanding
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0956797613520608
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0956797613520608
Keywords: theory of mind, theta-burst stimulation, social perception, mirror-neuron system, social interaction, social cognition, action understanding
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1420504
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