Phase-specific modulation of cortical motor output during movement observation

Neuroreport. 2001 May 25;12(7):1489-92. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200105250-00038.


The effects of different phases of an observed movement on the modulation of cortical motor output were studied by means of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). A video-clip of a reaching-grasping action was shown and single TMS pulses were delivered during its passive observation. Times of cortical stimulation were related to the phases of the shown movement, locking them to the appearance of specific kinematic landmarks. The amplitude of the motor evoked potentials (MEPs) induced by TMS in the first dorsal interosseus (FDI) muscle was modulated by the amount of the observed finger aperture. The presence of such an effect is consistent with the notion of a mirror neuron system in premotor areas that couples action execution and action observation also in terms of temporal coding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Arm / innervation
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetics
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology