Neuronal encoding of human kinematic invariants during action observation

Antonino Casile*, Eran Dayan, Vittorio Caggiano, Talma Hendler, Tamar Flash, Martin A. Giese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Human movements, besides entailing the presence of a body shape, comply with characteristic kinematic laws of motion. Psychophysical studies show that low-level motion perception is biased toward stimuli complying with these laws. However, the neuronal structures that are sensitive to the kinematic laws of observed bodily movements are still largely unknown. We investigated this issue by dissociating, by means of computer-generated characters, form and motion information during the observation of human movements. In a functional imaging experiment, we compared the levels of blood oxygen level-dependent activity elicited by human actions complying with or violating the kinematic laws of human movements. Actions complying with normal kinematic laws of motion differentially activated the left dorsal premotor and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex as well as the medial frontal cortex. These findings suggest that the kinematic laws of human movements specifically modulate the responses of neuronal circuits also involved in action recognition and that are predominantly located in the left frontal lobe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1647-1655
Number of pages9
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010


FundersFunder number
Hermann and Lilly Schilling Foundation
European Commission043403
Human Frontier Science ProgramRGP0054/2004-C
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftSFB550-C10
Volkswagen Foundation


    • action observation
    • biological motion
    • functional magnetic resonance imaging
    • kinematic invariants


    Dive into the research topics of 'Neuronal encoding of human kinematic invariants during action observation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this