Abstract

A fundamental question for social cognitive neuroscience is how and where in the brain the identities and actions of others are represented. Here we present a replication and extension of a study by Kable and Chatterjee [Kable, J. W., & Chatterjee, A. Specificity of action representations in the lateral occipito-temporal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 1498–1517, 2006] examining the role of occipito-temporal cortex in these processes. We presented full-cue movies of actors performing whole-body actions and used fMRI to test for action- and identity-specific adaptation effects. We examined a series of functionally defined regions, including the extrastriate and fusiform body areas, the fusiform face area, the parahippocampal place area, the lateral occipital complex, the right posterior superior temporal sulcus, and motion-selective area hMT+. These regions were analyzed with both standard univariate measures as well as multivoxel pattern analyses. Additionally, we performed whole-brain tests for significant adaptation effects. We found significant action-specific adaptation in many areas, but no evidence for identity-specific adaptation. We argue that this finding could be explained by differences in the familiarity of the stimuli presented: The actions shown were familiar but the actors performing the actions were unfamiliar. However, in contrast to previous findings, we found that the action adaptation effect could not be conclusively tied to specific functionally defined regions. Instead, our results suggest that the adaptation to previously seen actions across identities is a widespread effect, evident across lateral and ventral occipito-temporal cortex.

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