Premotor neurons play a fundamental role in transforming physical properties of observed objects, such as size and shape, into motor plans for grasping them, hence contributing to "pragmatic" affordance processing. Premotor neurons can also contribute to "semantic" affordance processing, as they can discharge differently even to pragmatically identical objects depending on their behavioural relevance for the observer (i.e. edible or inedible objects). Here, we compared the response of monkey ventral premotor area F5 neurons tested during pragmatic (PT) or semantic (ST) visuomotor tasks. Object presentation responses in ST showed shorter latency and lower object selectivity than in PT. Furthermore, we found a difference between a transient representation of semantic affordances and a sustained representation of pragmatic affordances at both the single neuron and population level. Indeed, responses in ST returned to baseline within 0.5 s whereas in PT they showed the typical sustained visual-to-motor activity during Go trials. In contrast, during No-go trials, the time course of pragmatic and semantic information processing was similar. These findings suggest that premotor cortex generates different dynamics depending on pragmatic and semantic information provided by the context in which the to-be-grasped object is presented.
Differential neural dynamics underling pragmatic and semantic affordance processing in macaque ventral premotor cortex / Maranesi, M.; Bruni, S.; Livi, A.; Donnarumma, F.; Pezzulo, G.; Bonini, L.. - In: SCIENTIFIC REPORTS. - ISSN 2045-2322. - 9:1(2019), p. 11700. [10.1038/s41598-019-48216-y]