Brain regions involved in human movement perception: a quantitative voxel-based meta-analysis

Hum Brain Mapp. 2012 Feb;33(2):431-54. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21222. Epub 2011 Mar 9.


Face, hands, and body movements are powerful signals essential for social interactions. In the last 2 decades, a large number of brain imaging studies have explored the neural correlates of the perception of these signals. Formal synthesis is crucially needed, however, to extract the key circuits involved in human motion perception across the variety of paradigms and stimuli that have been used. Here, we used the activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis approach with random effect analysis. We performed meta-analyses on three classes of biological motion: movement of the whole body, hands, and face. Additional analyses of studies of static faces or body stimuli and sub-analyses grouping experiments as a function of their control stimuli or task employed allowed us to identify main effects of movements and forms perception, as well as effects of task demand. In addition to specific features, all conditions showed convergence in occipito-temporal and fronto-parietal regions, but with different peak location and extent. The conjunction of the three ALE maps revealed convergence in all categories in a region of the right posterior superior temporal sulcus as well as in a bilateral region at the junction between middle temporal and lateral occipital gyri. Activation in these regions was not a function of attentional demand and was significant also when controlling for non-specific motion perception. This quantitative synthesis points towards a special role for posterior superior temporal sulcus for integrating human movement percept, and supports a specific representation for body parts in middle temporal, fusiform, precentral, and parietal areas.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Face
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis