Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UCLA Neuroscientists Pinpoint New Function For Mirror Neurons

Date:
February 25, 2005
Source:
University Of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
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.

The same part of the brain activates whether performing or observing an action. Activity increases (red in brain model) when the context of an observed action reveals intention.
Credit: Marco Iacoboni/Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Los Angeles. "UCLA Neuroscientists Pinpoint New Function For Mirror Neurons." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050223163142.htm>.
University Of California - Los Angeles. (2005, February 25). UCLA Neuroscientists Pinpoint New Function For Mirror Neurons. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050223163142.htm
University Of California - Los Angeles. "UCLA Neuroscientists Pinpoint New Function For Mirror Neurons." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050223163142.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins