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Behav Brain Res. 2011 Oct 1;223(2):342-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.04.053. Epub 2011 May 10.

Neural correlates related to action observation in expert archers.

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Department of Psychiatry, Bugok National Hospital, Gyeongsangnam-do, Republic of Korea.


A growing body of evidence suggests that activity of the mirror neuron system is dependent on the observer's motor experience of a given action. It remains unclear, however, whether activity of the mirror neuron system is also associated with the observer's motor experience in sports game. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to investigate differences in activation of the mirror neuron system during action observation between experts and non-archer control subjects. We used video of Western-style archery in which participants were asked to watch the archery movements. Hyperactivation of the premotor and inferior parietal cortex in expert archers relative to non-archer control subjects suggests that the human mirror neuron system could contain and expand representations of the motor repertoire. The fact that dorsomedial prefrontal cortex was more active in expert archers than in non-archer control subjects indicates a spontaneous engagement of theory of mind in experts when watching video of Western-style archery. Compared with the non-archer control subjects, expert archers showed greater activation in the neural system in regions associated with episodic recall from familiar and meaningful information, including the cingulate cortex, retrosplenial cortex, and parahippocampal gyrus. The results demonstrate that expertise effects stimulate brain activity not only in the mirror neuron system but also in the neural networks related to theory of mind and episodic memory.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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