Pineda, J.A.: The functional significance of mu rhythm: translating “seeing” and “hearing” into “doing”. Brain Res. Rev. 50, 57-68

Department of Cognitive Science and Neuroscience, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92037-0515, USA.
Brain Research Reviews (Impact Factor: 5.93). 01/2006; 50(1):57-68. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainresrev.2005.04.005
Source: PubMed


Existing evidence indicates that mu and other alpha-like rhythms are independent phenomena because of differences in source generation, sensitivity to sensory events, bilateral coherence, frequency, and power. Although mu suppression and enhancement echo sensorimotor processing in frontoparietal networks, they are also sensitive to cognitive and affective influences and likely reflect more than an idling brain state. Mu rhythms are present at early stages of human development and in other mammalian species. They exhibit adaptive and dynamically changing properties, including frequency acceleration and posterior-to-anterior shifts in focus. Furthermore, individuals can learn to control mu rhythms volitionally in a very short period of time. This raises questions about the mu rhythm's open neural architecture and ability to respond to cognitive, affective, and motor imagery, implying an even greater developmental and functional role than has previously been ascribed to it. Recent studies have suggested that mu rhythms reflect downstream modulation of motor cortex by prefrontal mirror neurons, i.e., cells that may play a critical role in imitation learning and the ability to understand the actions of others. It is proposed that mu rhythms represent an important information processing function that links perception and action-specifically, the transformation of "seeing" and "hearing" into "doing." In a broader context, this transformation function results from an entrainment/gating mechanism in which multiple alpha networks (visual-, auditory-, and somatosensory-centered domains), typically producing rhythmic oscillations in a locally independent manner, become coupled and entrained. A global or 'diffuse and distributed alpha system' comes into existence when these independent sources of alpha become coherently engaged in transforming perception to action.

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Available from: Jaime A. Pineda
    • "The discrepancy between the findings in these studies and the present one may be related to the differential nature of the tasks (e.g., complex motor actions that involve the whole body such as gymnastics vs. hand actions and fingering errors). Indeed, the mu frequency in the 10–12 Hz range seems highly somatotopic (and more sensitive to finger than foot actions) (Pineda, 2005) and elicited more by hand fingering than full body tasks. "
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    ABSTRACT: Detecting others’ action errors plays a critical role in social life. Studies indicate that executing action errors and observing other’s errors activate a specific cerebral system specialized for performance monitoring and detecting mismatches between an internal model of the action and the executed/observed one. Such a system may be particularly important for highly-skilled performance. By recording EEG in expert pianists, non-pianist musicians and musically naïve individuals while they observed correct or incorrect mute piano sequences, we explored the link between sensorimotor expertise, the ability to detect another’s erroneous action (indexed by positivity error, Pe) and action simulation (indexed by mu frequency suppression). Superior error detection in pianists was paralleled by a larger Pe, hinting at the selective activation of the parietal error-monitoring system in visuo-motor experts. Moreover, only in pianists did action observation induce left lateralized mu suppression in the 10-12 Hz band, reflecting somatotopic sensorimotor simulation. A mediation analysis showed that mu suppression and performance (indexed by d’) were mediated by Pe amplitude, indicating that the higher the simulation, the higher the sensitivity to errors for large Pe amplitude. This study shows that specific electrocortical indices link motor simulation and detection of errors in the actions of others.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Neuroscience
    • "Electroencephalographic mu-activity was used to quantify the activity of the human mirror neuron system. Mu-activity, oscillations in the 8e13 Hz range, measured at central electrodes (Pineda, 2005) is inversely correlated with the activity of the mirror neuron system (Arnstein, Cui, Keysers, Maurits, & Gazzola, 2011) and can be modulated by social processes like empathy, and personal involvement (Hoenen et al., 2013;Perry, Stein, & Bentin, 2011). It is hypothesized, that mu-activity during observation of robot movement is less pronounced, the more aggressive the situation was perceived and the more compassion was felt for the robot. "
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    ABSTRACT: The mirror-neuron-system (MNS) is involved in the perception of actions of humans and anthropomorphic robots. The current study investigates whether social interaction with a non-anthropomorphic robot is sufficient for a response of the MNS. Fifty-seven participants observed movements of a vacuum cleaning robot before and after it was handled by its owner. The robot was either humanized, being treated aggressively (n = 30), or it was treated as an object (n = 27). Electroencephalographic mu-activity is used as an index of MNS activity, because both are inversely correlated. Activity within the 8–13 Hz band was measured at central (mu-activity) and occipital (alpha-activity) electrodes. Further, the level of aggressiveness displayed by the robot's owner, and the participants' compassion were rated on visual analog scales. Mu-activity showed medium-sized correlations with rated aggressiveness and compassion: The more aggressive the action towards the robot was perceived (r = −.379, p = .004), and the more compassion was felt for the robot (r = −.339, p = .010), the less pronounced mu-activity was at electrode C3 in response to the robot's movement. Thus social interaction with a non-anthropomorphic robot might establish the robot as a social entity and is sufficient to activate the human MNS.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Computers in Human Behavior
    • "A similar pattern has been demonstrated in infants and toddlers for central alpha activity only (see also Marshall and Meltzoff, 2011; for a review, see Marshall et al., 2011; Nyström, 2008; Southgate et al., 2009). Thus, sensorimotor simulation provides a link between perception and action (e.g., Pineda, 2005) that may promote social functions including observational learning (e.g., Brass and Heyes, 2005), understanding intention (e.g., Iacoboni et al., 2005; Meltzoff, 2007), or joint action (e.g., Knoblich and Sebanz, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Infants possess the remarkable capacity to perceive occluded movements as ongoing and coherent. Little is known about the neural mechanisms that enable to internally represent movements of conspecifics and inanimate objects during visual occlusion. In this study, 10-month-old infants watched briefly occluded human and object movements. Prior to occlusion, continuous and distorted versions of the movement were shown. EEG recordings were used to assess neural activity assumed to relate to processes of attention (occipital alpha), memory (frontal theta), and sensorimotor simulation (central alpha) before, during, and after occlusion. Oscillatory activity was analyzed using an individualized data approach taking idiosyncrasies into account. Results for occipital alpha were consistent with infants' preference for attending to social stimuli. Furthermore, frontal theta activity was more pronounced when tracking distorted as opposed to continuous movement, and when maintaining object as opposed to human movement. Central alpha did not discriminate between experimental conditions. In sum, we conclude that observing occluded movements recruits processes of attention and memory, which are modulated by stimulus and movement properties.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015
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