Resonance of cortico-cortical connections of the motor system with the observation of goal directed grasping movements.

Massimiliano Oliveri, Viviana Versace, Emanuele Lo Gerfo, Federica Lupo, Sonia Bonnì, Carlo Caltagirone, Giacomo Koch, Massimiliano Oliveri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Goal directed movements require the activation of parietal, premotor and primary motor areas. In monkeys, neurons of these areas become active also during the observation of movements performed by others, especially for coding the goal of the action (mirror system). Using bifocal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in healthy subjects, we tested whether the observation of goal directed reach to grasp actions may lead to specific changes in the short-latency connections linking key areas of the mirror system, such as the anterior intraparietal cortex (AIP) and the ventral premotor cortex (PMv), with the primary motor cortex (M1). We found that AIP-M1 and PMv-M1 cortico-cortical interactions were specifically activated when observing successful reaching to grasp goal directed actions, in which the hand posture was congruent with the goal of the action performed by the actor. On the other hand they were not modified when the same goal directed actions were performed wrongly with an inappropriate grasping posture. A similar profile of excitability was observed when testing specific intracortical facilitatory circuits in M1 (I(2)-waves), known to reflect the activity in cortico-cortical pathways transmitting information from PMv. We conclude that the simple observation of others' goal directed actions is able to induce specific neurophysiological changes in some cortico-cortical circuits of the human motor system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3513-3520
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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