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Modulation of the mirror system by social relevance

Kilner, James M ; Marchant, Jennifer L ; Frith, Chris D

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2006, Vol.1(2), pp.143-148 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Modulation of the mirror system by social relevance
  • Author/Creator: Kilner, James M ; Marchant, Jennifer L ; Frith, Chris D
  • Subjects: Mirror Neuron; Action Observation; Social; Meg; Oscillations
  • Is Part Of: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2006, Vol.1(2), pp.143-148
  • Description: When we observe the actions of others, certain areas of the brain are activated in a similar manner as to when we perform the same actions ourselves. This mirror system includes areas in the ventral premotor cortex and the inferior parietal lobule. Experimental studies suggest that action observation automatically elicits activity in the observer, which precisely mirrors the activity observed. In this case we would expect this activity to be independent of observer's viewpoint. Here we use whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record cortical activity of human subjects whilst they watched a series of videos of an actor making a movement recorded from different viewpoints. We show that one cortical response to action observation (oscillatory activity in the 712Hz frequency range) is modulated by the relationship between the observer and the actor. We suggest that this modulation reflects a mechanism that filters information into the mirror system, allowing only socially relevant information to pass.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 1749-5016 ; E-ISSN: 1749-5024 ; DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsl017