Modulated activation of the human SI and SII cortices during observation of hand actions

Neuroimage. 2002 Mar;15(3):640-6. doi: 10.1006/nimg.2001.1029.


Neurons in area F5 of the monkey premotor cortex are activated during both execution and observation of hand actions. A similar "mirror-neuron system" seems to exist also in the human brain, including at least the superior temporal sulcus region, Broca's area, and the primary motor cortex. We recorded somatosensory evoked fields in response to median nerve stimulation from nine healthy subjects during (i) rest, (ii) manipulation of a small object, and (iii) observation of the same action to find out to what extent the somatosensory cortices display behavior similar to the human mirror-neuron system. SI signals were enhanced and SII signals suppressed during both manipulation and observation, except when the right manipulating hand was stimulated. Our results suggest that the SI and SII cortices contribute to the human mirror-neuron system, possibly providing information necessary for preserving the sense of self during action observation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Magnetoencephalography*
  • Male
  • Median Nerve / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*