Representation of action semantics in the motor cortex and Broca's area.

Research paper by Zuo Z Zhang, Yaoru Y Sun, Zijian Z Wang

Indexed on: 05 Mar '18Published on: 05 Mar '18Published in: Brain and Language


Previous studies have shown that both reading action words and observing actions engage the motor cortex and Broca's area, but it is still controversial whether a somatotopic representation exists for action verbs within the motor cortex and whether Broca's area encodes action-specific semantics for verbs. Here we examined these two issues using a set of functional MRI experiments, including word reading, action observation and a movement localiser task. Results from multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) showed a somatotopic organisation within the motor areas and action-specific activation in Broca's area for observed actions, suggesting the representation of action semantics for observed actions in these neural regions. For action verbs, however, a lack of finding for the somatotopic activation argues against semantic somatotopy within the motor cortex. Furthermore, activation patterns in Broca's area were not separable between action verbs and unrelated verbs, suggesting that Broca's area does not encode action-specific semantics for verbs. Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.