Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2, 561-567 (August 2001) | doi:10.1038/35086023

From the perception of action to the understanding of intention

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore1 & Jean Decety1,2  About the authors


Humans have an inherent tendency to infer other people's intentions from their actions. Here we review psychophysical and functional neuroimaging evidence that biological motion is processed as a special category, from which we automatically infer mental states such as intention. The mechanism underlying the attribution of intentions to actions might rely on simulating the observed action and mapping it onto representations of our own intentions. There is accumulating neurophysiological evidence to support a role for action simulation in the brain.

Author affiliations

  1. Neurophysiology of Intentionality, INSERM Unit 280, 151 Cours Albert-Thomas, 69424 Lyon Cedex 3, France.
  2. Center for Mind, Brain and Learning, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7988, USA.