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The plasticity of the mirror system: how reward learning modulates cortical motor simulation of others

Trilla Gros, I., Panasiti, M. S. and Chakrabarti, B. (2015) The plasticity of the mirror system: how reward learning modulates cortical motor simulation of others. Neuropsychologia, 70. pp. 255-262. ISSN 0028-3932

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.02.033

Abstract/Summary

Cortical motor simulation supports the understanding of others' actions and intentions. This mechanism is thought to rely on the mirror neuron system (MNS), a brain network that is active both during action execution and observation. Indirect evidence suggests that alpha/beta suppression, an electroencephalographic (EEG) index of MNS activity, is modulated by reward. In this study we aimed to test the plasticity of the MNS by directly investigating the link between alpha/beta suppression and reward. 40 individuals from a general population sample took part in an evaluative conditioning experiment, where different neutral faces were associated with high or low reward values. In the test phase, EEG was recorded while participants viewed videoclips of happy expressions made by the conditioned faces. Alpha/beta suppression (identified using event-related desynchronisation of specific independent components) in response to rewarding faces was found to be greater than for non-rewarding faces. This result provides a mechanistic insight into the plasticity of the MNS and, more generally, into the role of reward in modulating physiological responses linked to empathy.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) Research Network
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Centre for Cognition Research (CCR)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:39533
Uncontrolled Keywords:EEG; Empathy; Mirror neuron system; Mu; Beta; Reward
Publisher:Elsevier

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