Abstract

These experiments use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to reveal neural activity uniquely associated with perception of biological motion. We isolated brain areas activated during the viewing of point-light figures, then compared those areas to regions known to be involved in coherent-motion perception and kinetic-boundary perception. Coherent motion activated a region matching previous reports of human MT/MST complex located on the temporo-parieto-occipital junction. Kinetic boundaries activated a region posterior and adjacent to human MT previously identified as the kinetic-occipital (KO) region or the lateral-occipital (LO) complex. The pattern of activation during viewing of biological motion was located within a small region on the ventral bank of the occipital extent of the superior-temporal sulcus (STS). This region is located lateral and anterior to human MT/MST, and anterior to KO. Among our observers, we localized this region more frequently in the right hemisphere than in the left. This was true regardless of whether the point-light figures were presented in the right or left hemifield. A small region in the medial cerebellum was also active when observers viewed biological-motion sequences. Consistent with earlier neuroimaging and single-unit studies, this pattern of results points to the existence of neural mechanisms specialized for analysis of the kinematics defining biological motion.

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