Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
These experiments use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to reveal neural activity uniquely associated with perception of biological motion. We isolated brain areas activated during the viewing of point-light figures, then compared those areas to regions known to be involved in coherent-motion perception and kinetic-boundary perception. Coherent motion activated a region matching previous reports of human MT/MST complex located on the temporo-parieto-occipital junction. Kinetic boundaries activated a region posterior and adjacent to human MT previously identified as the kinetic-occipital (KO) region or the lateral-occipital (LO) complex. The pattern of activation during viewing of biological motion was located within a small region on the ventral bank of the occipital extent of the superior-temporal sulcus (STS). This region is located lateral and anterior to human MT/MST, and anterior to KO. Among our observers, we localized this region more frequently in the right hemisphere than in the left. This was true regardless of whether the point-light figures were presented in the right or left hemifield. A small region in the medial cerebellum was also active when observers viewed biological-motion sequences. Consistent with earlier neuroimaging and single-unit studies, this pattern of results points to the existence of neural mechanisms specialized for analysis of the kinematics defining biological motion.