Social interaction and comprehension of nonverbal behaviour requires a representation of people's bodies. Research into the neural underpinnings of body representation implicates several brain regions including extrastriate and fusiform body areas (EBA and FBA), superior temporal sulcus (STS), inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and inferior parietal lobule (IPL). The diVerent roles played by these regions in parsing familiar and unfamiliar body postures remain unclear. We examined the responses of this body observation network to static images of ordinary and contorted postures by using a repetition suppression design in functional neuroimaging. Participants were scanned whilst observing static images of a contortionist or a group of objects in either ordinary or unusual conWgurations, presented from diVerent viewpoints. Greater activity emerged in EBA and FBA when participants viewed contorted compared to ordinary body postures. Repeated presentation of the same posture from diVerent viewpoints lead to suppressed responses in the fusiform gyrus as well as three regions that are characteristically activated by observing moving bodies, namely STS, IFG and IPL. These four regions did not distinguish the image viewpoint or the plausibility of the posture. Together, these data deWne a broad cortical network for processing static body postures, including regions classically associated with action observation.
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- body representation
- mirror neuron system