Vitality forms processing in the insula during action observation: a multivoxel pattern analysis

Giuseppe Di Cesare, Giancarlo Valente, Cinzia Di Dio, Emanuele Ruffaldi, Massimo Bergamasco, Rainer Goebel, Giacomo Rizzolatti

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista

13 Citazioni (Scopus)


Observing how an action is done by others allows the observer to understand the cognitive and emotion state of the agent. This information, carried by the kinematics of the observed action, has been defined by Daniel Stern “vitality forms”. The expression and the capacity to understand the vitality forms is already present in infants, a finding indicating their importance for the development of social attunement. It has been proposed that, well before developing linguistic abilities, infants are actively engaged in non-verbal exchanges with their caregivers. This ability denotes a primordial way to relate to and understand others and presumably represents a constitutive element of interpersonal relations, namely intersubjectivity. In the present neuroimaging (fMRI) study we presented participants with videos showing hand actions performed with different velocities and asked them to judge their vitality form (gentle, neutral, rude) or their velocity (slow, medium, fast). Previous studies showed that the dorso-central insula is selectively active both during vitality form observation and execution. The aim of the present study was to assess, using multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA), whether in the insula there are voxels discriminating vitality form from velocity. Results showed that, consistently across subjects, in the dorso-central sector of the insula there are voxels selectively tuned to vitality forms. Supporting previous findings, these results confirm that the dorso-central insula is involved in processing the vitality forms of an action, both when carryied out in the first person and when observed in other individuals. This supports the idea that the understanding of others' behavior in terms of affective content is mediated by an automatic activation system that allows the recipient to tune in and respond to another individual's emotional state without necessarily having "formal" knowledge of what is being observed. As argued by Stern, this process would allow a synchronization with the behavior of others that underlies the first relational forms developing in early childhood.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)267-N/A
RivistaFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2016


  • Action understanding
  • Insula cortex
  • MVPA
  • social interaction
  • vitality forms


Entra nei temi di ricerca di 'Vitality forms processing in the insula during action observation: a multivoxel pattern analysis'. Insieme formano una fingerprint unica.

Cita questo