There is considerable evidence that there are anatomically and functionally distinct pathways for action and object recognition. However, little is known about how information about action and objects is integrated. This study provides fMRI evidence for task-based selection of brain regions associated with action and object processing, and on how the congruency between the action and the object modulates neural response. Participants viewed videos of objects used in congruent or incongruent actions and attended either to the action or the object in a one-back procedure. Attending to the action led to increased responses in a fronto-parietal action-associated network. Attending to the object activated regions within a fronto-inferior temporal network. Stronger responses for congruent action–object clips occurred in bilateral parietal, inferior temporal, and putamen. Distinct cortical and thalamic regions were modulated by congruency in the different tasks. The results suggest that (i) selective attention to action and object information is mediated through separate networks, (ii) object–action congruency evokes responses in action planning regions, and (iii) the selective activation of nuclei within the thalamus provides a mechanism to integrate task goals in relation to the congruency of the perceptual information presented to the observer.

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