Evidence that the human premotor cortex (PMC) is activated by cognitive functions involving the motor domain is classically explained as the reactivation of a motor program decoupled from its executive functions, and exploited for different purposes by means of a motor simulation. In contrast, the evidence that PMC contributes to the sequencing of non-biological events cannot be explained by the simulationist theory. Here we investigated how motor simulation and event sequencing coexist within the PMC and how these mechanisms interact when both functions are executed. We asked patients with depth electrodes implanted in the PMC to passively observe a randomized arrangement of images depicting biological actions and physical events and, in a second block, to sequence them in the correct order. This task allowed us to disambiguate between the simple observation of actions, their sequencing (recruiting different motor simulation processes), as well as the sequencing of non-biological events (recruiting a sequencer mechanism non dependant on motor simulation). We analysed the response of the gamma, alpha and beta frequency bands to evaluate the contribution of each brain rhythm to the observation and sequencing of both biological and non-biological stimuli. We found that motor simulation (biological>physical) and event sequencing (sequencing>observation) differently affect the three investigated frequency bands: motor simulation was reflected on the gamma and, partially, in the beta, but not in the alpha band. In contrast, event sequencing was also reflected on the alpha band.
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