Cells in monkey STS responsive to articulated body motions and consequent static posture: a case of implied motion?

Neuropsychologia. 2003;41(13):1728-37. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(03)00175-1.


We show that populations of visually responsive cells in the anterior part of the superior temporal sulcus (STSa) of the macaque monkey code for the sight of both specific articulated body actions and the consequent articulated static body postures. We define articulated actions as actions where one body part (e.g. a limb or head) moves with respect to the remainder of the body which remains static; conversely non-articulated actions are actions where the equivalent body parts do not move with respect to each other but move as one. Similarly, articulated static body postures contain a torsion or rotation between parts, while non-articulated postures do not. Cells were tested with the sight of articulated and non-articulated actions followed by the resultant articulated or non-articulated static body postures. In addition, the static body postures that formed the start and end of the actions were tested in isolation. The cells studied did not respond to the sight of non-articulated static posture, which formed the starting-point of the action, but responded vigorously to the articulated static posture that formed the end-point of the action. Other static postures resembling the articulated end-point posture, but which were in a more relaxed muscular state (i.e. non-articulated), did not evoke responses. The cells did not respond to body actions that were less often associated with the effective static articulated postures. Our results suggest that the cells' responses were related to the implied action rather than the static posture per se. We propose that the neural representations in STSa for actual biological motion may also extend to biological motion implied from static postures. These representations could play a role in producing the activity in the medial temporal/medial superior temporal (V5(MT)/MST) areas reported in fMRI studies when subjects view still photographs of people in action.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Functional Laterality
  • Head / physiology
  • Kinesthesis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Motion Perception
  • Motion*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Temporal Lobe / cytology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / cytology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Wakefulness / physiology