Poster C127, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Making sense of objects lying about: How contextual objects shape brain activity during action observation
Nadiya El-Sourani1,2, Ima Trempler1,4, Moritz F. Wurm3, Gereon R. Fink2,4, Ricarda I. Schubotz1,2; 1University of Münster, Germany, 2University Hospital Cologe, Germany, 3University of Trento, Rovereto TN, Italy, 4Research Centre Jülich, Germany
It is essential to normal life that we understand what others are doing. Recent findings suggest that action observers consider multiple sources of information in order to integrate them to a coherent scenario. Building on these insights, the current fMRI study is concerned with contextual objects (COs) present during everyday actions. COs are part of a particular scene yet not integrated in the action itself. To investigate whether COs are processed during action observation, 21 subjects watched action videos that either contained a CO or not. To further investigate the impact of the COs on action recognition we modulated two factors: the semantic relationship of the COs to the observed action (Goal Affinity) as well as their spatial relation to it (Location Ergonomics). We found increased activation in the Action Observation Network (AON) for actions containing a CO compared to those which did not. The same network was enhanced by high compared to low Goal Affinity COs, in addition to both middle frontal gyri. Moreover, an interaction contrast revealed high vs. low Goal Affinity to have an additional effect on left ventral premotor and inferior frontal areas, when COs were presented closer to the action. The results suggest that COs have an impact on the processing of observed actions. In particular, if the CO would be easy to integrate in the action in terms of both its semantic relatedness and reachability, the brain seeks to integrate the CO in terms of an overarching action goal.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Vision