Activations related to "mirror" and "canonical" neurones in the human brain: an fMRI study

Neuroimage. 2003 Apr;18(4):928-37. doi: 10.1016/s1053-8119(03)00042-9.


In the macaque monkey ventral premotor cortex (F5), "canonical neurones" are active when the monkey observes an object and when the monkey grasps that object. In the same area, "mirror neurones" fire both when the monkey observes another monkey grasping an object and when the monkey grasps that object. We used event-related fMRI to investigate where in the human brain activation can be found that reflects both canonical and mirror neuronal activity. There was activation in the intraparietal and ventral limbs of the precentral sulcus when subjects observed objects and when they executed movements in response to the objects (canonical neurones). There was activation in the dorsal premotor cortex, the intraparietal cortex, the parietal operculum (SII), and the superior temporal sulcus when subjects observed gestures (mirror neurones). Finally, activations in the ventral premotor cortex and inferior frontal gyrus (area 44) were found when subjects imitated gestures and executed movements in response to objects. We suggest that in the human brain, the ventral limb of the precentral sulcus may form part of the area designated F5 in the macaque monkey. It is possible that area 44 forms an anterior part of F5, though anatomical studies suggest that it may be a transitional area between the premotor and prefrontal cortices.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Video Recording