Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Nat Commun. 2015 Jul 8;6:7544. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8544

Causative role of left aIPS in coding shared goals during human-avatar complementary joint actions

Successful motor interactions require agents to anticipate what a partner is doing in order to predictively adjust their own movements. Although the neural underpinnings of the ability to predict others' action goals have been well explored during passive action observation, no study has yet clarified any critical neural substrate supporting interpersonal coordination during active, non-imitative (complementary) interactions. Here, we combine non-invasive inhibitory brain stimulation (continuous Theta Burst Stimulation) with a novel human-avatar interaction task to investigate a causal role for higher-order motor cortical regions in supporting the ability to predict and adapt to others' actions. We demonstrate that inhibition of left anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS), but not ventral premotor cortex, selectively impaired individuals' performance during complementary interactions. Thus, in addition to coding observed and executed action goals, aIPS is crucial in coding 'shared goals', that is, integrating predictions about one's and others' complementary actions.

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