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What You Hear Drives What You Will And Will Not Do

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Action prediction implies the involvement of specific forms of anticipatory, embodied simulation that triggers neural activity in perceptual and motor systems. It is common that when a person hears the sound of own phone alert tone, the desire to take action, i.e. check and respond to the call, is immediate. In contrast, stopping to take action arise when listening to someone else’s same ringtone requires both that the event is attended to, and that the action is inhibited. Human motor system seem designed to function as an anticipation device and humans predict forth coming actions by using their own motor system as an internal forward model. Evidence in support of this notion comes even from auditory study in which hearing sounds typically associated with a responsive action (e.g .a doorbell) rather than by sounds that do not elicit automatic motor responses (e.g. a cuckoo clock) bring about an increase in neural activity in the premotor and prefrontal regions. Here we combined a novel listening paradigm with state-of-the-art lesion mapping procedures to determine: (i) the ability to predict and anticipate the upcoming phases of an action by listening to their sound; (ii) the cortical areas responsible in the implicit, auditory-cue based prediction of the another person's action. We asked brain-damaged patients and healthy subjects to listen to pairs of action-related or environmental sounds presented in the congruent, inverted or no order to judge the coherence of the action auditory sequence. Moreover, by using lesion- mapping procedure we highlighted the cortical areas responsible of action prediction driven by action-related sounds.