The observation and hearing of eating actions activates motor programs related to eating in macaque monkeys

Behav Brain Res. 2005 Jun 3;161(1):95-101. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2005.01.009. Epub 2005 Feb 17.


The observation of actions can lead, in some cases, to the repetition of those same actions. In other words, motor programs similar to those observed can be recruited. Since this phenomenon is expressed when in the presence of another individual, it has been named social facilitation. In the present study we investigated whether the observation and/or hearing of eating actions facilitate eating behaviors in observing/listening pig-tailed macaques. In experiment 1, the observation of an eating room mate significantly enhanced eating behavior in the observer. Similar results were obtained (experiment 2) in response to the sound of eating actions but not to control sounds (experiment 3). We propose that eating facilitation triggered by observation or listening of eating actions can rely on the mirror neuron system of ventral premotor cortex that provides a matching between the observed/listened action and the executed action. This matching system can subsequently trigger the motor programs necessary for repeating the observed/heard actions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Imitative Behavior / physiology
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Observation*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric