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 Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>