The brain network for the recognition of biological motion includes visual areas and structures of the mirror-neuron system. The latter respond during action execution as well as during action recognition. As motor and somatosensory areas predominantly represent the contralateral side of the body and visual areas predominantly process stimuli from the contralateral hemifield, we were interested in interactions between visual hemifield and action recognition. In the present study, human participants detected the facing direction of profile views of biological motion stimuli presented in the visual periphery. They recognized a right-facing body view of human motion better in the right visual hemifield than in the left; and a left-facing body view better in the left visual hemifield than in the right. In a subsequent fMRI experiment, performed with a similar task, two cortical areas in the left and right hemispheres were significantly correlated with the behavioural facing effect: primary somatosensory cortex (BA 2) and inferior frontal gyrus (BA 44). These areas were activated specifically when point-light stimuli presented in the contralateral visual hemifield displayed the side view of their contralateral body side. Our results indicate that the hemispheric specialization of one's own body map extends to the visual representation of the bodies of others.
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