Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews

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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    • " ( 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
    • "Neuroimaging studies have revealed a widespread overlap of brain areas, such as premotor cortex (PMC), supplementary motor area (SMA), primary motor cortex (M1), somatosensory cortex and parietal cortex (Caspers et al. 2010; Grèzes and Decety 2001; Molenberghs et al. 2012) during action execution and action observation. However, not complete overlapping areas between the two types of task have been reported: While action execution recruits the ventral premotor cortex, observation of action is more directly associated with temporal and parietal activation, consistent with processing of the visual and contextual information (Grèzes and Decety 2001). "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study explored cortical correlates of gesture execution and observation in peripersonal space, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Moreover, a direct comparison was realized between resting state condition and execution/observation. Meaningful gestures produced in the presence (transitive action) or in the absence (intransitive action) of the object were considered in a real context (situated representation of gestures). Subjects were required to execute or observe transitive versus intransitive gestures during fNIRS registration. Gesture execution was related to higher brain activity (increased oxygenated hemoglobin levels) with respect to observation in motor areas (premotor cortex, PMC; supplementary motor cortex, SM1). In contrast, the posterior parietal cortex was similarly activated in case of both execution and observation task. Moreover, both tasks showed increased brain activity within these areas compared to resting state. Finally, it was shown that action execution and observation of transitive gestures was supported by similar parietal posterior areas. These findings support the hypothesis of a partial common network for observation and execution of gestures within peripersonal space, mainly in transitive condition.
    Cognitive Processing 07/2015; 16 Suppl 1. DOI:10.1007/s10339-015-0729-2 · 1.57 Impact Factor
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