Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Knowing the internal states of ourselves and of others.

We frequently can infer the emotional state of someone from the style of their movement, distinguishing, for example, when they hand us something rudely versus gently. The time, space, force, trajectory, and direction of the handing movement differ, reflecting what Rizzolattia and colleagues call different 'vitality forms.' They find that vitality forms in the three different tasks of action observation, imagination, and self execution correlate with consistent activation of the dorsocentral sector of the insula:
Vitality form is a term that describes the style with which motor actions are performed (e.g., rude, gentle, etc.). They represent one characterizing element of conscious and unconscious bodily communication. Despite their importance in interpersonal behavior, vitality forms have been, until now, virtually neglected in neuroscience. Here, using the functional MRI (fMRI) technique, we investigated the neural correlates of vitality forms in three different tasks: action observation, imagination, and execution. Conjunction analysis showed that, in all three tasks, there is a common, consistent activation of the dorsocentral sector of the insula. In addition, a common activation of the parietofrontal network, typically active during arm movements production, planning, and observation, was also found. We conclude that the dorsocentral part of the insula is a key element of the system that modulates the cortical motor activity, allowing individuals to express their internal states through action vitality forms. Recent monkey anatomical data show that the dorsocentral sector of the insula is, indeed, connected with the cortical circuit involved in the control of arm movements.

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