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Neuron. 2002 Dec 19;36(6):1211-20.

Viewing lip forms: cortical dynamics.

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  • 1Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature Laboratory, Helsinki University of Technology, P.O. Box 2200, FIN-02015 HUT, Espoo, Finland. nobu@rehab.go.jp


Viewing other persons' actions automatically activates brain areas belonging to the mirror-neuron system (MNS) assumed to link action execution and observation. We followed, by magnetoencephalographic cortical dynamics, subjects who observed still pictures of lip forms, on-line imitated them, or made similar forms in a self-paced manner. In all conditions and in both hemispheres, cortical activation progressed in 20-70 ms steps from the occipital cortex to the superior temporal region (where the strongest activation took place), the inferior parietal lobule, and the inferior frontal lobe (Broca's area), and finally, 50-140 ms later, to the primary motor cortex. The signals of Broca's area and motor cortex were significantly stronger during imitation than other conditions. These results demonstrate that still pictures, only implying motion, activate the human MNS in a well-defined temporal order.

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