Advertisement

Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 210, Issue 5–6, pp 419–421 | Cite as

The mirror neuron system and its function in humans

  • Giacomo RizzolattiEmail author
Original Article

Mirror neurons are a particular type of neurons that discharge when an individual performs an action, as well as when he/she observes a similar action done by another individual. Mirror neurons have been described originally in the premotor cortex (area F5) of the monkey. Subsequent studies have shown that they are present also in the monkey inferior parietal lobule (Rizzolatti et al. 2001).

In the human brain, evidence for mirror neurons is indirect, but, although there is no single-neuron study showing the existence of mirror neurons, functional imaging studies revealed activation of the likely homologue of monkey area F5 (area 44 and the adjacent ventral area 6) during action observation (see Rizzolatti and Craighero 2004). Furthermore, magnetoencephalography (Hari et al. 1998) and EEG (Cochin et al. 1999) have shown activation of motor cortex during observation of finger movements. Very recently, alpha rhythm desynchronization in functionally delimited language and hand motor...

Keywords

Facial Expression Mirror Neuron Anterior Insula Mirror System fMRI Experiment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The study was supported by EU Contract QLG3-CT-2002-00746, Mirror, by EU Contract IST 2004- 001917, by the Italian Ministero dell’Università e Ricerca, Cofin 2002, and FIRB n. RBNE01SZB4.

References

  1. Arbib MA (2002) Beyond the mirror system: imitation and evolution of langauge. In: Nehaniv C, Dautenhan K (eds) Imitation in animals and artifacts. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp 229–280Google Scholar
  2. Armstrong AC, Stokoe WC, Wilcox SE (1995) Gesture and the nature of language. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. Buccino G, Vogt S, Ritzl A, Fink GR, Zilles K, Freund HJ, Rizzolatti G (2004) Neural circuits underlying imitation of hand actions: an event related fMRI sudy. Neuron 42:323–334PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carr L, Iacoboni M, Dubeau MC, Mazziotta JC, Lenzi GL (2003) Neural mechanisms of empathy in humans: a relay from neural systems for imitation to limbic areas. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100:5497–5502PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cochin S, Barthelemy C, Roux S, Martineau J (1999) Observation and execution of movement: similarities demonstrated by quantified electroencephalograpy. Eur J Neurosci 11:1839–1842PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Corballis MC (2002) From hand to mouth. The origins of language. Princeton University Press, Princeton, MA, 257 pGoogle Scholar
  7. Fadiga L, Fogassi L, Pavesi G, Rizzolatti G (1995) Motor facilitation during action observation: a magnetic stimulation study. J Neurophysiol 73:2608–2611PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gallese V, Goldman A (1998) Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind-reading. Trends Cogn Sci 12:493–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gallese V, Fadiga L, Fogassi L, Rizzolatti G (1996) Action recognition in the premotor cortex. Brain 119:593–609PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gallese V, Keysers C, Rizzolatti G (2004) A unifying view of the basis of social cognition. Trends Cogn Sci 8:396–403PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hari R, Forss N, Avikainen S, Kirveskari S, Salenius S, Rizzolatti G (1998) Activation of human primary motor cortex during action observation: a neuromagnetic study. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95:15061–15065PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Iacoboni M, Woods RP, Brass M, Bekkering H, Mazziotta JC, Rizzolatti G (1999) Cortical mechanisms of human imitation. Science 286:2526—2528 (submitted)Google Scholar
  13. Iacoboni M, Molnar-Szakacs I, Gallese V, Buccino G, Mazziotta JC, Rizzolatti G (2005) Grasping the Intentions of Others with One's Own Mirror Neuron System. Plos Biology 3:529–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nishitani N, Hari R (2000) Temporal dynamics of cortical representation for action. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:913–918PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rizzolatti G, Arbib MA (1998) Language within our grasp. Trends Neurosci 21:188–194PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rizzolatti G, Craighero L (2004) The Mirror Neuron System. Annual Rev Neurosci 27:169–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rizzolatti G, Fadiga L, Fogassi L, Gallese V (1996) Premotor cortex and the recognition of motor actions. Cogn Brain Res 3:131–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rizzolatti G, Fogassi L, Gallese V (2001) Neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the understanding and imitation of action. Nat Rev Neurosci 2:661–670PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Tremblay C, Robert M, Pascual-Leone A, Lepore F, Nguyen DK, Carmant L, Bouthillier A, Téoret H (2004) Action observation and execution: intracranial recordings in a human subject. Neurology 63:937–938PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Visalberghi E, Fragaszy D (2001) Do monkeys ape? Ten years after. In: Dautenhahn K, Nehaniv C (eds) Imitation in animals and artifacts. MIT Press, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  21. Wicker B, Keysers C, Plailly J, Royet JP, Gallese V, Rizzolatti G (2003) Both of us disgusted in my insula: the common neural basis of seeing and feeling disgust. Neuron 40:655–664PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Sezione FisiologiaUniversità di ParmaParmaItaly

Personalised recommendations