Abstract

To obtain further evidence that action observation can serve as a proxy for action execution and planning in posterior parietal cortex, we scanned participants while they were (1) observing two classes of action: vocal communication and oral manipulation, which share the same effector but differ in nature, and (2) rehearsing and listening to nonsense sentences to localize area Spt, thought to be involved in audio-motor transformation during speech. Using this localizer, we found that Spt is specifically activated by vocal communication, indicating that Spt is not only involved in planning speech but also in observing vocal communication actions. In addition, we observed that Spt is distinct from the parietal region most specialized for observing vocal communication, revealed by an interaction contrast and located in PFm. The latter region, unlike Spt, processes the visual and auditory signals related to other's vocal communication independently. Our findings are consistent with the view that several small regions in the temporoparietal cortex near the ventral part of the supramarginal/angular gyrus border are involved in the planning of vocal communication actions and are also concerned with observation of these actions, though involvements in those two aspects are unequal.

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