Effect of subjective perspective taking during simulation of action: a PET investigation of agency

Nat Neurosci. 2001 May;4(5):546-50. doi: 10.1038/87510.


Perspective taking is an essential component in the mechanisms that account for intersubjectivity and agency. Mental simulation of action can be used as a natural protocol to explore the cognitive and neural processing involved in agency. Here we took PET measurements while subjects simulated actions with either a first-person or a third-person perspective. Both conditions were associated with common activation in the SMA, the precentral gyrus, the precuneus and the MT/V5 complex. When compared to the first-person perspective, the third-person perspective recruited right inferior parietal, precuneus, posterior cingulate and frontopolar cortex. The opposite contrast revealed activation in left inferior parietal and somatosensory cortex. We suggest that the right inferior parietal, precuneus and somatosensory cortex are specifically involved in distinguishing self-produced actions from those generated by others.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Communication*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed