Action Representation in the Cerebral Cortex and the Cognitive Functions of the Motor System
Neuroanatomical and functional data of the two last decades indicate that action and perception are strictly linked, this link occurring through several reciprocal parieto-premotor circuits. In these circuits the representation of the action goal at the single neuron level plays a major role, because it constitutes the internal knowledge on which the external word (such as space, object, biological stimuli) is matched. The mirror neuron system, that is the neural system matching action observation with action execution, is an example of a neural mechanism through which we can recognize and interpret actions made by others by using our internal motor repertoire.
In this article several types of motor cognitive functions will be examined, with a particular emphasis on those underpinned by the mirror neuron system. After a description of the main properties of mirror neurons and of the areas involved in the mirror neuron system in both monkeys and humans, evidence will be reviewed showing the main involvement of this system in action and intention understanding and, in humans, in imitation and some aspects of language.
KeywordsMotor Cortex Inferior Frontal Gyrus Mirror Neuron Premotor Cortex Inferior Parietal Lobule
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