To Watch is to Work: a Review of NeuroImaging Data on Tool Use Observation Network


  • Reynaud Emanuelle
  • Navarro Jordan
  • Lesourd Mathieu
  • Osiurak François


  • Tool use Action observation Left inferior parietal cortex Meta-analysis

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Since the discovery ofmirror neurons in the 1990s, many neuroimaging studies have tackled the issue ofaction observation with the aim ofunravelling a putative homolog human system. However, these studies do not distinguish between non-tool-use versus tool-use actions, implying that a common brain network is systematically involved in the observation of any action. Here we provide evidence for a brain network dedicated to tool-use action observation, called the tool-use observation network, mostly situated in the left hemisphere, and distinct from the non-tool-use action observation network. Areas specific for tool-use action observation are the left cytoarchitectonic area PF within the left inferior parietal lobe and the left inferior frontal gyrus. The neural correlates associated with the observation of tool-use reported here offer new insights into the neurocognitive bases of action observation and tool use, as well as addressing more fundamental issues on the origins ofspecifically human phenomena such as cumulative technological evolution. Keywords

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