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Dissociable roles of human inferior frontal gyrus during action execution and observation

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Citation

Press, C., Weiskopf, N., & Kilner, J. M. (2012). Dissociable roles of human inferior frontal gyrus during action execution and observation. NeuroImage, 60(3), 1671-1677. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.01.118.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0027-AF97-4
Abstract
There has been recent controversy about whether activation in the human inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and Brodmann Area (BA) 6 when observing actions indicates operation of mirror neurons. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data have demonstrated repetition suppression (RS) effects in posterior IFG which are consistent with the presence of mirror neurons in humans. Here we investigated whether there were similar RS effects elsewhere in the IFG and BA6, or whether, instead, activation in other locations may signal operation of alternative mechanisms. Replicating previous findings, we found RS effects in posterior IFG consistent with the operation of mirror neurons. However, these effects were not found in other locations in IFG and BA6. Additionally, activation patterns in anterior regions of IFG suggested dissociable operations when observing and executing actions. Therefore, caution should be exercised when claiming that activations in many locations during action observation indicate the operation of mirror neurons. Activation may instead reflect alternative mechanisms, such as encoding of the semantic features of actions.