When adults see other humans making movements with specific body parts, the parts of their brains devoted to moving those body parts also become activated. While watching someone moving their hand, the part of your cortex devoted to moving your own hand also becomes active.
There are various developmental and evolutionary theories as to why this might be the case, one of which being that it might be a neurobiological foundation of our ability to imitate others, which is necessary for cultural learning and language development.
In this study, Joni Saby and colleagues at Temple University and the University of Washington used non-invasive recordings over the scalp of infants to show that when they observed other people using their hands, activity in the hand areas of their cortex increased. Likewise, when infants observed other people moving their feet, activity in the foot areas of their cortex increased.
The study is published in journal PLOS ONE.
--ANI (Posted on 31-10-2013)