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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1433. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2419.

Mirror neurons in monkey area F5 do not adapt to the observation of repeated actions.

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Department of Cognitive Neurology, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research & Werner-Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, University of Tübingen, Frondsbergstr. 23, 72070 Tübingen, Germany.


Repetitive presentation of the same visual stimulus entails a response decrease in the action potential discharge of neurons in various areas of the monkey visual cortex. It is still unclear whether this repetition suppression effect is also present in single neurons in cortical premotor areas responding to visual stimuli, as suggested by the human functional magnetic resonance imaging literature. Here we report the responses of 'mirror neurons' in monkey area F5 to the repeated presentation of action movies. We find that most single neurons and the population at large do not show a significant decrease of the firing rate. On the other hand, simultaneously recorded local field potentials exhibit repetition suppression. As local field potentials are believed to be better linked to the blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal exploited by functional magnetic resonance imaging, these findings suggest caution when trying to derive conclusions on the spiking activity of neurons in a given area based on the observation of BOLD repetition suppression.

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