A mirror up to nature

Center for Neural Science, New York University, 4 Washington Place, New York, New York 10003, USA.
Current Biology (Impact Factor: 9.92). 02/2008; 18(1):R13-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.11.004
Source: PubMed


Available from: Ilan Dinstein, Jun 03, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The debate about the causal role of the motor system in speech perception has been reignited by demonstrations that motor processes are engaged during the processing of speech sounds. Here, we evaluate which aspects of auditory speech processing are affected, and which are not, in a stroke patient with dysfunction of the speech motor system. We found that the patient showed a normal phonemic categorical boundary when discriminating two non-words that differ by a minimal pair (e.g., ADA–AGA). However, using the same stimuli, the patient was unable to identify or label the non-word stimuli (using a button-press response). A control task showed that he could identify speech sounds by speaker gender, ruling out a general labelling impairment. These data suggest that while the motor system is not causally involved in perception of the speech signal, it may be used when other cues (e.g., meaning, context) are not available.
    Cognitive Neuropsychology 05/2015; 32(2):38-57. DOI:10.1080/02643294.2015.1035702 · 1.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mirror neurons represent a population of neurons discovered by accident in the ventral premotor cortex of the macaca monkeys (Macaca nemistrina and Macaca mulatta), but a consensus is yet to be made on whether they exist in the human brain because of several technical and bioethical difficulties in mirror neuron research on human subjects. Mirror neurons are characterized by activation during an execution, but also during an observation of an action performed by another individual. Electrophysiological patterns of brain function mirror those of an actual execution of the action. Potential roles of mirror neurons include a wide spectrum of cognitive and emotional actions and processes such as the understanding of meaning and intention of an observed action, learning by imitation, empathy, forming of the “mind theory”, as well as language learning and comprehension. Its potential role in empathy is especially interesting. Due to the significant role of empathy dysfunction in the basis of antisocial personality disorder and the disorders of the autistic spectrum, it was intuitively hypothesized that mirror neurons might have a role in the pathophysiology of these disorders. Current research have yet to give adequate support for such hypotheses.
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    ABSTRACT: Abnormal synaptic maturation and connectivity are possible etiologies of autism. Previous studies showed significantly less alpha activity in autism than normal children. Therefore, we studied the effects of anodal tDCS on peak alpha frequency (PAF) related to autism treatment evaluation checklist (ATEC). Twenty male children with autism were randomly assigned in a crossover design to receive a single session of both active and sham tDCS stimulation (11 mA) over F3 (left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). Pre- to postsession changes in a measure of cortical activity impacted by tDCS (PAF) and ATEC were compared between groups. We also examined the associations between pre- and postsession changes in the PAF and ATEC. The results show significant pre- to postsession improvements in two domains of ATEC (social and health/behavior domains) following active tDCS, relative to sham treatment. PAF also significantly increased at the stimulation site, and an increase in PAF was significantly associated with improvements in the two domains of ATEC impacted by tDCS. The findings suggest that a single session of anodal tDCS over the F3 may have clinical benefits in children with autism and that those benefits may be related to an increase in PAF.
    Behavioural neurology 01/2015; 2015:1-11. DOI:10.1155/2015/928631 · 1.64 Impact Factor