Expressing our internal states and understanding those of others

Cinzia Di Dio, Giuseppe Di Cesare, Massimo Marchi, Giacomo Rizzolatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)


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 that develops from infancy particularly during dyadic mother-child interactions. 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 dorso- central sector of the insula. In addition, a common activation of the parietofrontal network, typically active during arm movements pro- duction, 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10331-5-10335
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mirror Neurons
  • Motor Cortex
  • Motor Skills
  • Movement
  • Nerve Net
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Random Allocation
  • Young Adult
  • action style
  • fMRI
  • insula
  • mirror mechanism
  • vitality forms


Dive into the research topics of 'Expressing our internal states and understanding those of others'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this