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Using mu rhythm desynchronization to measure mirror neuron activity in infants
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2011 (English)In: Developmental Science, ISSN 1363-755X, E-ISSN 1467-7687, Vol. 14, no 2, 327-335 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Mirror Neuron System hypothesis stating that observed actions are projected onto the observer's own action system assigns an important role to development, because only actions mastered by the observer can be mirrored. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether there is evidence of a functioning mirror neuron system (MNS) in 8-month-old infants. High-density EEG was used to assess the mu rhythm desynchronization in an action observation task where the infants observed a live model. To reduce noise, ICA decompositions were used. The results show a higher desynchronization of the mu rhythm when infants observed a goal-directed action than when they observed a spatially similar non-goal-directed movement. The localizations of the sources are in agreement with those proposed by the MNS hypothesis. This indicates that the MNS is functioning at this age.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 14, no 2, 327-335 p.
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-152649DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2010.00979.xISI: 000287489500018OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-152649DiVA: diva2:413827
Available from: 2011-04-29 Created: 2011-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Manual Motor Development in Infancy: Execution and Observation of Actions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Manual Motor Development in Infancy: Execution and Observation of Actions
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Of all motor skills, manual reaching might be the one ability that matters most for infants’ perceptual, cognitive and social development. Reaching allows infants to learn about object properties, but also gives opportunities for socializing with others. The general aim of the present thesis was to study the importance of manual motor development in infancy from different perspectives; first, through examining stereopsis as a prerequisite for efficient reaching development, second, with regard to understanding others goal-directed reach actions by means of the mirror neuron system (MNS), and third, in relation to possible atypical development, with a specific focus on autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Study I shows that under monocular viewing conditions, infants at six, eight and 10 months of age perform slower and less accurate reaches. Longer times to object contact during monocular trials specifically imply that motor prediction is less effective when depth and distance information is compromised.

Study II demonstrates that, by eight months of age, infants seem to have a MNS that functions in a similar manner to the adult MNS, thus activity can be registered over the motor cortex when infants simply observe an action they can master themselves. This activation is predictive, indicating anticipation of the goal of the observed reach.

Study III indicates that infants at elevated familial risk for ASD present with reduced prospective motor control at 10 months of age. Compared to a low-risk control sample, high-risk infants perform reactive rather than predictive reach actions. Follow-up assessment at 36 months will show whether this measure can be used as a predictive diagnostic marker for ASD.

The main contribution given by this work is the insight that it is important to take manual motor aspects into account when considering typical as well as atypical cognitive and social development, and in addition, that motor prediction is a key factor behind being able to timely execute and understand reaching actions. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. 99 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 119
Keyword
Infancy, Motor development, Reaching, Actions, Motor prediction, Prospective motor control, Social cognition, Stereopsis, Mirror neuron system, Mu rhythm, Motor impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, High-risk siblings
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-264869 (URN)978-91-554-9386-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-12-11, Museum Gustavianum, Auditorium Minus, Akademigatan 3, 753 10, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-11-20 Created: 2015-10-19 Last updated: 2016-01-13Bibliographically approved

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