Mirror activity in the human brain while observing hand movements: A comparison between EEG desynchronization in the μ-range and previous fMRI results

Anat Perry*, Shlomo Bentin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mu (μ) rhythms are EEG oscillations between 8-13 Hz distinguished from alpha by having more anterior distribution and being desynchronized by motor rather than visual activity. Evidence accumulating during the last decade suggests that the desynchronization of μ rhythms (μ suppression) might be also a manifestation of a human Mirror Neuron System (MNS). To further explore this hypothesis we used a paradigm that, in a previous fMRI study, successfully activated this putative MNS in humans. Our direct goal was to provide further support for a link between modulation of μ rhythms and the MNS, by finding parallels between the reported patterns of fMRI activations and patterns of μ suppression. The EEG power in the μ range has been recorded while participants passively observed either a left or a right hand, reaching to and grasping objects, and compared it with that recorded while participants observed the movement of a ball, and while observing static grasping scenes or still objects. Mirroring fMRI results (Shmuelof, L., Zohary, E., 2005. Dissociation between ventral and dorsal fMRI activation during object and action recognition. Neuron 47, 457-470), μ suppression was larger in the hemisphere contra-lateral to the moving hand and larger when the hands grasped different objects in different ways than when the movement was repetitive. No suppression was found while participants observed still objects but μ suppression was also found while seeing static grasping postures. These data are discussed in light of similar parallels between modulations of alpha waves and fMRI while recording EEG in the magnet. The present data support a link between μ suppression and a human MNS.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalBrain Research
Volume1282
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Jul 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by an Israeli Science Foundation (ISF) grant to Shlomo Bentin. We thank Lior Shmuelof and Ehud Zohary for kindly sharing their stimuli with us.

Keywords

  • Alpha
  • EEG
  • Mu rhythm

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