M Iacoboni

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States

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Publications (55)287.78 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: In this paper, we review the contribution of our research group to the study of human consciousness by quantitative electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques. We posit that EEG techniques can be extremely useful for a direct measurement of brain electrophysiological activity related to human consciousness for their unsurpassable high temporal resolution (milliseconds). This activity can be expressed in terms of event-related potentials as well as changes of EEG rhythms of interest, for example the dominant alpha rhythms (about 8-12 Hz). The results of our studies, and those of several independent groups, lead support to the hypothesis that these techniques provide important insights about the neurophysiologic mechanisms underlying cortical neural synchronization/desynchronization and the regulation of neuromodulatory systems (e.g. dopaminergic, noradrenergic, cholinergic, etc.) at the basis of brain arousal and consciousness in healthy subjects and in patients with impairment of the consciousness. A possible interaction of these mechanisms and the drugs administered to patients with consciousness disorders is discussed.
    Current pharmaceutical design 09/2013; · 4.41 Impact Factor
  • Leonardo Moore, Marco Iacoboni
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    ABSTRACT: Although we fundamentally agree with Schilbach et al., we argue here that there is still some residual utility for non-interactive scenarios in social neuroscience. They may be useful to quantify individual differences in prosocial inclination that are not influenced by concerns about reputation or social pressure.
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 08/2013; 36(4):432-3. · 18.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been shown that frontocentral electroencephalographic (EEG) alpha rhythms (about 10-12 Hz) were higher in amplitude in expert golfers in successful than unsuccessful putts, possibly reflecting the idea that amplitude regulation of frontocentral alpha rhythms is a physiological mechanism implied in motor control and golfer's performance (Babiloni et al., 2008). Here, we tested the ancillary hypothesis that golfer's performance is also associated to an improved coordination of cortical activity, as reflected by functional coupling of alpha rhythms across cortical regions. To this aim, between-electrodes spectral coherence was computed from spatially enhanced EEG data of the mentioned study (i.e. right handed 12 expert golfers; augmented 10-20 system; surface Laplacian estimation). Low- (about 8-10 Hz) and high-frequency (about 10-12 Hz) alpha sub-bands were considered with reference to individual alpha frequency peak. Statistical results showed that intra-hemispheric low-frequency alpha coherence in bilateral parietal-frontal (P3-F3 and P4-F4 electrodes) and parietal-central (P3-C3 and P4-C4 electrodes) was higher in amplitude in successful than unsuccessful putts (p<0.004). The same was true for intra-hemispheric high-frequency alpha coherence in bilateral parietal-frontal regions (p<0.004). These findings suggest that intra-hemispheric functional coupling of cortical alpha rhythms between "visuo-spatial" parietal area and other cortical areas is implicated in fine motor control of golfer's performance.
    International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology 09/2011; 82(3):260-8. · 3.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that compared with non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduction of reactivity of electroencephalographic (EEG) alpha rhythms (about 8-12 Hz) to eyes opening in the condition of resting state, as a possible index of spatially selective cortical activation (i.e. "neural efficiency"). EEG data (56 channels; Eb-Neuro©) were recorded in 18 elite karate athletes and 28 non-athletes during resting state eyes-closed and eyes-open conditions. The EEG data were spatially enhanced by surface Laplacian estimation. Cortical activity was indexed by task-related power decrease (TRPD), namely the alpha power during the eyes-open referenced to the eyes-closed resting condition. Low-frequency alpha TRPD (about 8-10 Hz) was lower in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes in frontal (p<0.00002), central (p<0.008) and right occipital (p<0.02) areas. Similarly, high-frequency alpha TRPD (about 10-12 Hz) was lower in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes in frontal (p<0.00009) and central (p<0.01) areas. These results suggest that athletes' brain is characterized by reduced cortical reactivity to eyes opening in the condition of resting state, in line with the "neural efficiency" hypothesis. The present study motivates future research evaluating the extent to which this general functional brain feature is related to heritable trait or intensive visuo-motor training of elite athletes.
    International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology 09/2011; 82(3):240-7. · 3.05 Impact Factor
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    Marco Iacoboni
    Psychological Inquiry 07/2011; 22(3):217-218. · 4.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been shown that elite pistol shooters are characterized by a power increase of wide cortical electroencephalographic (EEG) alpha (about 8-12 Hz) and beta (about 14-35 Hz) rhythms during the preparation of air pistol shots, possibly related to selective attentional and "neural efficiency" processes [Del Percio C, Babiloni C, Bertollo M, Marzano N, Iacoboni M, Infarinato F, Lizio R, Stocchi M, Robazza C, Cibelli G, Comani S, Eusebi F (2009a) Hum Brain Mapp 30(11):3527-3540; Del Percio C, Babiloni C, Marzano N, Iacoboni M, Infarinato F, Vecchio F, Lizio R, Aschieri P, Fiore A, Toràn G, Gallamini M, Baratto M, Eusebi F (2009b) Brain Res Bull 79(3-4):193-200]. Here, we tested the hypothesis that such processes are associated with an enhanced functional coupling of posterior cortical regions involved in task-relevant attentional processes and visuo-motor transformations. To this aim, between-electrodes spectral coherence was computed from spatially enhanced EEG data collected during a previous study (i.e. right handed 18 elite air pistol shooters and 10 matched non-athletes; augmented 10-20 system; surface Laplacian estimation). Theta (about 4-6 Hz), low-frequency alpha (about 8-10 Hz), high-frequency alpha (about 10-12 Hz), low-frequency beta (14-22 Hz), high-frequency beta (23-35 Hz), and gamma (36-44 Hz) bands were considered. Statistical results showed that intra-hemispheric low-frequency alpha (parietal-temporal and parietal-occipital regions), high-frequency alpha (parietal-temporal and parietal-occipital regions), high-frequency beta, and gamma (parietal-temporal regions) coherence values were stable in amplitude in the elite athletes but not in the non-athletes during the preparation of pistol shots. The same applies to inter-hemispheric low-frequency alpha (parietal regions), high-frequency alpha (parietal regions), high-frequency beta and gamma coherence values. These findings suggest that under the present experimental conditions, elite athletes are characterized by the stabilization of functional coupling of preparatory EEG rhythms between "visuo-spatial" parietal area and other posterior cortical areas.
    Neuroscience 02/2011; 175:198-211. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The "neural efficiency" hypothesis posits that neural activity is reduced in experts. Here we tested the hypothesis that compared with non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during simple voluntary movement and that this is reflected by the modulation of dominant alpha rhythms (8-12 Hz). EEG data (56 channels; EB-Neuro) were continuously recorded in the following right-handed subjects: 10 elite karate athletes and 12 non-athletes. During the EEG recordings, they performed brisk voluntary wrist extensions of the right or left hand (right movement and left movement). The EEG cortical sources were estimated by standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA) freeware. With reference to a baseline period, the power decrease of alpha rhythms during the motor preparation and execution indexed the cortical activation (event-related desynchronization, ERD). During both preparation and execution of the right movements, the low- (about 8-10 Hz) and high-frequency alpha ERD (about 10-12 Hz) was lower in amplitude in primary motor area, in lateral and medial premotor areas in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes. For the left movement, only the high-frequency alpha ERD during the motor execution was lower in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes. These results confirmed that compared with non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during simple voluntary movement. Cortical alpha rhythms are implicated in the "neural efficiency" of athletes' motor systems.
    Clinical neurophysiology: official journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology 04/2010; 121(4):482-91. · 3.12 Impact Factor
  • International Journal of Psychophysiology - INT J PSYCHOPHYSIOL. 01/2010; 77(3):214-215.
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    ABSTRACT: Here we tested two working hypotheses on spatially selective cortical activation ("neural efficiency") in experts: (i) compared to non-athletes, elite karate athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during the judgment of karate actions; (ii) compared to non-athletes and elite karate athletes, amateur karate athletes are characterized by an intermediate cortical activation during the judgment of karate actions. Electroencephalographic (EEG) data were recorded in 16 elite karate athletes, 15 amateur athletes and 17 non-athletes. They observed a series of 120 karate videos. At the end of each video, the subjects had to judge the technical/athletic level of the exercise by a scale from 0 to 10. The mismatch between their judgment and that of the coach indexed the degree of action judgment. The EEG cortical sources were estimated by sLORETA. With reference to a pre-stimulus period, the power decrease of alpha (8-12 Hz) rhythms during the video indexed the cortical activation (event-related desynchronization, ERD). Regarding the hypothesis of reduced activity in elite karate athletes, low- and high-frequency alpha ERD was less pronounced in dorsal and "mirror" pathways in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes. Regarding the hypothesis of intermediate cortical activity in amateur karate athletes, low- and high-frequency alpha ERD was less pronounced in dorsal pathways across the non-athletes, the amateur karate athletes, and the elite karate athletes. In conclusion, athletes' judgment of observed sporting actions is related to less pronounced alpha ERD, as a possible index of "neural efficiency" in experts engaged in social cognition.
    Behavioural brain research 11/2009; 207(2):466-75. · 3.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The present electroencephalographic (EEG) study tested the working hypothesis that the amplitude of resting state cortical EEG rhythms (especially alpha, 8-12 Hz) was higher in elite athletes compared with amateur athletes and non-athletes, as a reflection of the efficiency of underlying back-ground neural synchronization mechanisms. Eyes closed resting state EEG data were recorded in 16 elite karate athletes, 20 amateur karate athletes, and 25 non-athletes. The EEG rhythms of interest were delta (2-4 Hz), theta (4-8 Hz), alpha 1 (8-10.5 Hz), alpha 2 (10.5-13 Hz), beta 1 (13-20 Hz), and beta 2 (20-30 Hz). EEG cortical sources were estimated by low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA). Statistical results showed that the amplitude of parietal and occipital alpha 1 sources was significantly higher in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes and karate amateur athletes. Similar results were observed in parietal and occipital delta sources as well as in occipital theta sources. Finally, a control confirmatory experiment showed that the amplitude of parietal and occipital delta and alpha 1 sources was stronger in 8 elite rhythmic gymnasts compared with 14 non-athletes. These results supported the hypothesis that cortical neural synchronization at the basis of eyes-closed resting state EEG rhythms is enhanced in elite athletes than in control subjects.
    Brain research bulletin 10/2009; 81(1):149-56. · 2.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: "Neural efficiency" hypothesis posits that neural activity is reduced in experts. Here we tested the hypothesis that compared with non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduction of cortical activation during an engaging upright standing. EEG (56 channels; Be-plus Eb-Neuro and stabilogram (RGM) data were simultaneously recorded in 10 elite karate, 10 elite fencing athletes, and 12 non-athletes during a simple bipodalic (standard Romberg) and a more engaging monopodalic upright standing. Balance was indexed by body "sway area". The EEG data were spatially enhanced by surface Laplacian estimation. Cortical activity was indexed by task-related power decrease (TRPD) of EEG alpha power (8-12Hz) during monopodalic referenced to bipodalic condition. The body "sway area" was larger during the monopodalic than bipodalic upright standing in all groups. Low-frequency alpha TRPD (about 8-10Hz) was lower in amplitude in the karate and fencing athletes than in the non-athletes at left central, right central, middle parietal, and right parietal areas (p<0.01). Similarly, the amplitude of high-frequency alpha TRPD (10-12Hz) was lower in the karate and fencing athletes than in the non-athletes at right frontal, left central, right central, and middle parietal areas (p<0.03). These results suggest that during monopodalic referenced to less engaging bipodalic condition, the power decrease (i.e. the desynchronization) of cortical activity at alpha rhythms is largely reduced in elite athletes than in non-athletes, in line with the "neural efficiency" hypothesis. The present study extends our understanding of the physiological mechanisms at the basis of the "neural efficiency" for engaging upright standing in elite athletes.
    Brain research bulletin 06/2009; 79(3-4):193-200. · 2.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study tested the two following hypotheses: (i) compared with non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during the preparation of precise visuo-motor performance; (ii) in elite athletes, an optimal visuo-motor performance is related to a low cortical activation. To this aim, electroencephalographic (EEG; 56 channels; Be Plus EB-Neuro) data were recorded in 18 right-handed elite air pistol shooters and 10 right-handed non-athletes. All subjects performed 120 shots. The EEG data were spatially enhanced by surface Laplacian estimation. With reference to a baseline period, power decrease/increase of alpha rhythms during the preshot period indexed the cortical activation/deactivation (event-related desynchronization/synchronization, ERD/ERS). Regarding the hypothesis (i), low- (about 8-10 Hz) and high-frequency (about 10-12 Hz) alpha ERD was lower in amplitude in the elite athletes than in the non-athletes over the whole scalp. Regarding the hypothesis (ii), the elite athletes showed high-frequency alpha ERS (about 10-12 Hz) larger in amplitude for high score shots (50%) than for low score shots; this was true in right parietal and left central areas. A control analysis confirmed these results with another indicator of cortical activation (beta ERD, about 20 Hz). The control analysis also showed that the amplitude reduction of alpha ERD for the high compared with low score shots was not observed in the non-athletes. The present findings globally suggest that in elite athletes (experts), visuo-motor performance is related to a global decrease of cortical activity, as a possible index of spatially selective cortical processes ("neural efficiency").
    Human Brain Mapping 05/2009; 30(11):3527-40. · 6.88 Impact Factor
  • 04/2009; 47:S44.
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    ABSTRACT: "Attentional" adaptations are fundamental effects for sport performance. We tested the hypothesis that tiredness and muscular fatigue poorly affect visuo-spatial attentional processes in elite karate athletes. To this aim, 14 elite karate athletes and 11 non-athletes were involved in an isometric contraction exercise protocol up to muscular fatigue. Blood lactate and attention measurements were taken. Posner's test probed "endogenous" (i.e., internally planned allocation of spatial attention) and "reflexive" (i.e., brisk variation of endogenous spatial attention due to unexpected external stimuli) attention. Lactate and attentional measurements were performed before (Block 1, B1) and after the fatiguing exercise (B2) and at the end of a recovery period (B3). Compared to the non-athletes, the athletes showed a better performance in the fatigue protocol, confirmed by the higher absolute lactate values in B2. The correct responses in the "valid trials" probing "endogenous" attention were 92.4% (B1), 93.9% (B2), and 95.8% (B3) in the non-athletes, and 98.5%, 96.4%, 95.5% in the elite karate athletes. The correct responses in the "invalid trials" probing "reflexive" attention were 95.4%, 89.7%, 93.2% in the non-athletes, and 96.4%, 97.3%, 98.5% in the elite karate athletes. The percentage of correct responses in the "invalid" trials significantly decreased from B1 to B2 in the non-athletes but not in the elite karate athletes. In conclusion, tiredness and muscular fatigue do not affect "reflexive" attentional processes of elite karate athletes, which is crucial to contrast attacks coming from an unexpected spatial region.
    Archives italiennes de biologie 04/2009; 147(1-2):1-10. · 1.43 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The present study tested the two following hypotheses: (i) compared to non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during the judgment of sporting observed actions; (ii) in elite athletes, a good judgment of observed sporting actions is related to a low cortical activation. To address these issues, electroencephalographic (EEG) data were recorded in 15 elite rhythmic gymnasts and 13 non-gymnasts. They observed a series of 120 rhythmic gymnastic videos. At the end of each video, the subjects had to judge the artistic/athletic level of the exercise by a scale from 0 to 10. The mismatch between their judgment and that of the coach indexed the degree of action judgment. The EEG cortical sources were estimated by sLORETA. With reference to a pre-stimulus period, the power decrease of alpha (8-12 Hz) rhythms during the videos indexed the cortical activation (event related desynchronization, ERD). Regarding the hypothesis (i), low- and high-frequency alpha ERD was lower in amplitude in the elite rhythmic gymnasts compared to the non-gymnasts in occipital and temporal areas (ventral pathway) and in dorsal pathway. Regarding the hypothesis (ii), in the elite rhythmic gymnasts high-frequency alpha ERD was higher in amplitude with the videos characterized by a high judgment error than those characterized by a low judgment error; this was true in inferior posterior parietal and ventral premotor areas ("mirror" pathway). These results globally suggest that the judgment of observed sporting actions is related to low amplitude of alpha ERD, as a possible index of spatially selective cortical activation ("neural efficiency").
    NeuroImage 01/2009; 45(2):512-21. · 6.25 Impact Factor
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    M Iacoboni, R McHaney
    NeuroLeadership Journal. 01/2009; 1(2):35-41.
  • NeuroImage 01/2009; 47. · 6.25 Impact Factor
  • Marco Iacoboni
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    ABSTRACT: This chapter discusses evidence from single unit recordings in monkeys and brain imaging in humans suggesting that neural mechanisms of mirroring allow the sharing of mental states between individuals. Such sharing solves the old philosophical problem of other minds. Correlations between mirroring and empathy also suggest that relatively simple neurobiological mechanisms of mirroring maybe at the basis of a secular morality which is built upon biological predispositions we have inherited from our evolutionary ancestors. KeywordsMirror neurons–Theory of mind–Simulation theory–Sociality–Imitation
    12/2008: pages 121-133;
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    ABSTRACT: During the first year of life, exchanges and communication between a mother and her infant are exclusively preverbal and are based on the mother's ability to understand her infant's needs and feelings (i.e., empathy) and on imitation of the infant's facial expressions; this promotes a social dialog that influences the development of the infant self. Sixteen mothers underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while observing and imitating faces of their own child and those of someone else's child. We found that the mirror neuron system, the insula and amygdala were more active during emotional expressions, that this circuit is engaged to a greater extent when interacting with one's own child, and that it is correlated with maternal reflective function (a measure of empathy). We also found, by comparing single emotions with each other, that joy expressions evoked a response mainly in right limbic and paralimbic areas; by contrast, ambiguous expressions elicited a response in left high order cognitive and motor areas, which might reflect cognitive effort.
    Cerebral Cortex 10/2008; 19(5):1124-33. · 8.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: "Neural efficiency" hypothesis posits that cortical activity is spatially focused in experts. Here we tested the hypothesis that compared to non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during visuo-motor tasks related to the field of expertise, as a function of movement side. EEG data (56 channels; EB-Neuro) were continuously recorded in the following right-handed subjects: 11 non-athletes, 11 elite fencing athletes, and 11 elite karate athletes. During the EEG recordings, they observed pictures with fencing and karate attacks, and had to quickly click a right (left) keyboard button for the attacks at right (left) monitor side. The EEG data were averaged with respect to the movement onset, and were spatially enhanced by surface Laplacian estimation. The potentials related to the preparation (readiness potential) and initiation (motor potential) of the movements were measured. For the right movement, the potentials overlying supplementary motor and contralateral sensorimotor areas were higher in amplitude in the non-athletes than in the elite karate and fencing athletes. Furthermore, the amplitude of the motor potential over ipsilateral sensorimotor area was higher in the elite karate than fencing athletes, and its distribution over bilateral sensorimotor areas was less asymmetrical in the karate than in the other two groups. For the left movement, these potentials showed no difference between the groups. The present results suggest that "neural efficiency" hypothesis does not fully account for the organization of motor systems in elite athletes. "Neural efficiency" would depend on several factors including side of the movement, hemisphere, and kind of athletes.
    NeuroImage 07/2008; 42(4):1544-53. · 6.25 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
287.78 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1996–2013
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • • Brain Research Institute
      • • Department of Psychology
      • • Department of Neurology
      Los Angeles, CA, United States
    • Università degli Studi di Brescia
      Brescia, Lombardy, Italy
  • 1991–2013
    • Sapienza University of Rome
      • • Department of Physiology and Pharmacology "Vittorio Erspamer"
      • • Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedic Science
      Roma, Latium, Italy
  • 2008–2011
    • Università degli studi di Foggia
      • Department of Biomedical Science
      Foggia, Apulia, Italy
    • Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
      • Department of Neuropsychology
      Leipzig, Saxony, Germany
    • Laureate Institute for Brain Research
      Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
  • 1997–2011
    • University of Southern California
      • • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
      • • Department of Neurology
      Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 2009
    • IRCCS Centro San Giovanni di Dio, Fatebenefratelli, Brescia
      Brescia, Lombardy, Italy
  • 1999–2000
    • Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 1995
    • Children's Hospital Los Angeles
      • DIvision of Neurology
      Los Angeles, California, United States