Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences




Background/aim: The firing rate of the mirror neuron system in monkeys decreases systematically with more repetitions. The aim of this study is to investigate whether the activity of the mirror neuron system varies based on the observed movement and the contents of the action, as well as whether there is inhibition in the mirror neuron system when humans observe repeated actions. If inhibition is present, the second question of the study is whether it is related to the organization of the observed action. Materials and methods: Fourteen healthy volunteers participated in the study. Transcranial magnetic stimulation was applied to the left primary motor cortex and motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded from the right first dorsal interosseous and abductor pollicis brevis muscles while the participants were watching videos specially prepared for the study. Results: There were no significant changes in MEP amplitudes compared to baseline MEPs while observing aimless action. However, while participants watched the repeated action video, the mean MEP amplitude increased at the beginning of the movement, but neither facilitation nor inhibition was detected when the participants watched the phase of grasping the object of the action compared to the baseline MEP amplitude. On the other hand, while participants were watching different activities, an increased MEP amplitude was observed at the beginning of the movement and in the grasping of the object of the action. Additionally, there was no significant reduction in MEP amplitude during any movement stages while observing the repeated action video. Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that the activation of the mirror neuron system in humans depends on the content and stages of the observed movement. Additionally, there was no inhibition or systematic reduction in MEP amplitudes while watching a repeated action.


Mirror neuron system, transcranial magnetic stimulation, motor evoked potential, repeated action observation

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