Neural representation of others during action observation in posterior medial prefrontal cortex

Rossella Falcone, Rossella Cirillo, Francesco Ceccarelli, Aldo Genovesio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Making decisions based on the actions of others is critical to daily interpersonal interactions. We investigated the representations of other's actions at single neural level in posterior medial prefrontal cortex (pmPFC) in two monkeys during the observation of actions of another agent, in a social interaction task. Each monkey separately interacted with a human partner. The monkey and the human alternated turns as actor and observer. The actor was required to reach one of two visual targets, avoiding the previously chosen target, while the observer monitored that action. pmPFC neurons decoupled in most cases self from others during both the execution and the observation of explicit actions. pmPFC neurons showed selective directional tuning specific for the agent who was executing the task. Moreover, we assessed the relationship of the response coding between the periods immediately before and after the action, by using a cross-modal decoding analysis. We found neural network stability from the action anticipation period to the observation of other's actions, suggesting a strong relationship between the anticipation and the execution of an action. When the monkey was the actor, the population coding appeared dynamic, possibly reflecting a goal-action transformation unique to the monkey's own action execution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4512-4523
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 8 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • medial prefrontal cortex
  • monkeys
  • neural dynamics
  • social interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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