Viewing lip forms: cortical dynamics

Neuron. 2002 Dec 19;36(6):1211-20. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(02)01089-9.


Viewing other persons' actions automatically activates brain areas belonging to the mirror-neuron system (MNS) assumed to link action execution and observation. We followed, by magnetoencephalographic cortical dynamics, subjects who observed still pictures of lip forms, on-line imitated them, or made similar forms in a self-paced manner. In all conditions and in both hemispheres, cortical activation progressed in 20-70 ms steps from the occipital cortex to the superior temporal region (where the strongest activation took place), the inferior parietal lobule, and the inferior frontal lobe (Broca's area), and finally, 50-140 ms later, to the primary motor cortex. The signals of Broca's area and motor cortex were significantly stronger during imitation than other conditions. These results demonstrate that still pictures, only implying motion, activate the human MNS in a well-defined temporal order.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Genetic Variation / physiology
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior / physiology*
  • Lip / physiology
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology