Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCLA neuroscientists pinpoint new function for mirror neurons

22.02.2005


Specialized brain cells predict intentions as well as define actions



The road to interpreting intentions is paved with mirror neurons. A study by UCLA neuroscientists featuring functional magnetic resonance imaging and a well-stocked tea service suggests for the first time that mirror neurons help people understand the intentions of others -- a key component to social interaction.

Reporting Feb. 22 in the online edition of PLoS Biology, the UCLA team found that pre motor mirror neuron areas of the brain -- areas active during the execution and the observation of an action -- ascribe intentions to actions when presented within a context. Previously, these neurons were thought to be involved only in action recognition.


In addition to expanding knowledge of how the brain functions, the findings support a growing body of evidence that imitation-based forms of treatments in patients with autism and similar disorders may help stimulate the function of these neurons, helping these patients improve their ability to understand the intentions of others and empathize with their thoughts and feelings.

"Understanding the intentions of others while watching their action is a fundamental building block of social behavior," said principal investigator Dr. Marco Iacoboni, an associate professor in-residence of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute’s Ahmanson Lovelace Brain Mapping Center and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our findings show for the first time that intentions behind actions of others can be recognized by the motor system using a mirror mechanism in the brain. The same area of the brain responsible for understanding behavior can predict behavior as well."

Twenty-three research subjects underwent functional MRI while alternately viewing three stimuli presented in the form of short videos: 1) a hand grasping a cup without context; 2) a tea service stocked with food and drink before use and after use, or context only; and 3) the grasping of a tea cup within each of the two contexts, signaling intent either to drink or to clean.

Actions embedded in context, compared with the other two conditions, increased blood flow in the posterior part of the brain’s inferior frontal gyrus, known to be important for grasping control, and in the adjacent sector of the ventral premotor cortex, where hand actions are represented. Increased blood flow is an indicator of increased neural activity.

Iacoboni also is affiliated with the UCLA Brain Research Institute and the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain and Development. Other members of the research team included Istvan Molnar Szakacs and John C. Mazziotta of UCLA, and Vittorio Gallese, Giovanni Buccino and Giacomo Rizzolatti of the University of Parma, Italy.

Dan Page | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mednet.ucla.edu
http://www.npi.ucla.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New procedure enables cultivation of human brain sections in the petri dish
19.10.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht The “everywhere” protein: honour for the unravellor of its biology
19.10.2017 | Boehringer Ingelheim Stiftung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>