Brain regions with mirror properties: A meta-analysis of 125 human fMRI studies

The University of Queensland, Queensland Brain Institute & School of Psychology, Queensland 4072, Australia.
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews (Impact Factor: 8.8). 07/2011; 36(1):341-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.07.004
Source: PubMed


Mirror neurons in macaque area F5 fire when an animal performs an action, such as a mouth or limb movement, and also when the animal passively observes an identical or similar action performed by another individual. Brain-imaging studies in humans conducted over the last 20 years have repeatedly attempted to reveal analogous brain regions with mirror properties in humans, with broad and often speculative claims about their functional significance across a range of cognitive domains, from language to social cognition. Despite such concerted efforts, the likely neural substrates of these mirror regions have remained controversial, and indeed the very existence of a distinct subcategory of human neurons with mirroring properties has been questioned. Here we used activation likelihood estimation (ALE), to provide a quantitative index of the consistency of patterns of fMRI activity measured in human studies of action observation and action execution. From an initial sample of more than 300 published works, data from 125 papers met our strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. The analysis revealed 14 separate clusters in which activation has been consistently attributed to brain regions with mirror properties, encompassing 9 different Brodmann areas. These clusters were located in areas purported to show mirroring properties in the macaque, such as the inferior parietal lobule, inferior frontal gyrus and the adjacent ventral premotor cortex, but surprisingly also in regions such as the primary visual cortex, cerebellum and parts of the limbic system. Our findings suggest a core network of human brain regions that possess mirror properties associated with action observation and execution, with additional areas recruited during tasks that engage non-motor functions, such as auditory, somatosensory and affective components.

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Available from: Pascal Molenberghs, Jan 16, 2015
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    • "Furthermore, mirror neurons do not only serve to understand or anticipate simple hand actions, but are also involved in understanding and anticipating more subtle emotional expressions (Carr et al., 2003; Iacoboni, 2009; Rizzolatti and Craighero, 2005). Specifically, overlapping brain areas (including the mirror neuron network and the limbic system) are activated when imitating or merely observing facial expressions (Carr et al., 2003; Molenberghs et al., 2012). Also, mirror neuron activity has been related to emotional empathy, indicating that mirror neurons play a key role in the understanding of other people's emotions (Kaplan and Iacoboni, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Difficulties in self-other processing lie at the core of schizophrenia and pose a problem for patients' daily social functioning. In the present selective review, we provide a framework for understanding self-other integration and distinction, and impairments herein in schizophrenia. For this purpose, we discuss classic motor prediction models in relation to mirror neuron functioning, theory of mind, mimicry, self-awareness, and self-agency phenomena. Importantly, we also discuss the role of more recent cognitive expectation models in these phenomena, and argue that these cognitive models form an essential contribution to our understanding of self-other integration and distinction. In doing so, we bring together different lines of research and connect findings from social psychology, affective neuropsychology, and psychiatry to further our understanding of when and how people integrate versus distinguish self and other, and how this goes wrong in schizophrenia patients.
    Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 09/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.09.004 · 8.80 Impact Factor
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    • " ( Fadiga et al . , 1995 ; Buccino et al . , 2001 ; Aziz - Zadeh et al . , 2002 ; Gazzola and Keysers , 2009 ) . Neural subpopulations code either perceived or executed actions that may be linked to the striking mirror property in the premotor cortex , supplementary motor area ( SMA ) , inferior parietal lobule , cingulate gyrus , and cerebellum ( Molenberghs et al . , 2012 ) . Different cognitive neuroscience techniques and experimental protocols in healthy subjects and patients with brain damage have provided convergent evidence for the existence of a fronto - temporal - parietal network involved in a variety of sensory signals that trigger or modulate an action ( Aglioti and Pazzaglia , 2010 ) . For exa"
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    ABSTRACT: The bidirectional flow of perceptual and motor information has recently proven useful as rehabilitative tool for rebuilding motor memories. We analyzed how the visual-motor approach has been successfully applied in neurorehabilitation, leading to surprisingly rapid and effective improvements in action execution. We proposed that the contribution of multiple sensory channels during treatment enables individuals to predict and optimize motor behavior, having a greater effect than visual input alone. We explored how the state-of-the-art neuroscience techniques show direct evidence that employment of visual-motor approach leads to increased motor cortex excitability and synaptic and cortical map plasticity. This super-additive response to multimodal stimulation may maximize neural plasticity, potentiating the effect of conventional treatment, and will be a valuable approach when it comes to advances in innovative methodologies.
    Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 08/2015; 9(222). DOI:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00222 · 3.27 Impact Factor
    • "On the perceptual side, a second set of constraints may rely on early visual preferences. While the early bias newborns have for looking at faces is established in face processing literature (Johnson & Morton, 1991; Valenza, Simion, Cassia, & Umilt a, 1996), it might be important for developing a mirror system as well (Meltzoff & Moore, 1997). Evidence is accumulating in support of a visual preference for other relevant body parts. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current review examines models developed to answer questions about the origins and early developmental processes determining the emergence of mirroring mechanisms and considers the debate about the role of the motor system in action understanding. Strengths and points of criticism deriving from existing alternative positions are illustrated. Particular emphasis is put on the neuroconstructivist framework with the aim of evaluating whether the hypotheses driven by this approach are in line with the available evidence. Within the neuroconstructivist framework, a novel model is proposed in which the direct-matching and action reconstruction viewpoints on action understanding processes can be integrated by assuming a developmental perspective. It is suggested that mirroring mechanisms are shaped by a domain-relevant narrowing process driven by sensorimotor experience and that action understanding can take advantage of both top-down and bottom-up processes, in a multilevel and dynamic fashion. © 2015 The British Psychological Society.
    08/2015; DOI:10.1111/bjdp.12110
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