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Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2010;28(6):737-47. doi: 10.3233/RNN-2010-0542.

Age-independent activation in areas of the mirror neuron system during action observation and action imagery. A fMRI study.

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Kliniken Schmieder Allensbach, Allensbach, Germany.



Recent studies have found age-related BOLD signal changes in several areas of the human brain. We investigated whether such changes also occur in brain areas involved in the processing of motor action observation and imagery.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging with an experimental paradigm in which motor acts had to be observed and/or imagined from a first person perspective was performed in twenty-six subjects.


In line with previous work action observation and imagery induced BOLD signal increases in similar areas, predominantly in the premotor and parietal cortex. In contrast to young subjects the elderly displayed a stronger activity in most activated brain areas indicative of compensatory activity for the age-related decline of neural structures. Importantly, activity in the ventrolateral premotor cortex and inferior parietal cortex, seminal areas of the mirror neuron system, did not exhibit activity changes as a function of age.


These findings suggest that activity within the mirror neuron system is not age dependent and provide a neural basis for therapeutical interventions and novel rehabilitation treatments such as video therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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