In non-human primates, a subset of frontoparietal neurons (mirror neurons) respond both when an individual executes an action and when it observes another individual performing a similar action.1–8 Mirror neurons constitute an observation and execution matching system likely involved in others’ actions processing3,5,9 and in a large set of complex cognitive functions.10,11 Here, we show that the forelimb motor cortex of rats contains neurons presenting mirror properties analogous to those observed in macaques. We provide this evidence by event-related potentials acquired by microelectrocorticography and intracortical single-neuron activity, recorded from the same cortical region during grasping execution and observation. Mirror responses are highly specific, because grasping-related neurons do not respond to the observation of either grooming actions or graspable food alone. These results demonstrate that mirror neurons are present already in species phylogenetically distant from primates, suggesting for them a fundamental, albeit basic, role not necessarily related to higher cognitive functions. Moreover, because murine models have long been valued for their superior experimental accessibility and rapid life cycle, the present finding opens an avenue to new empirical studies tackling questions such as the innate or acquired origin of sensorimotor representations and the effects of social and environmental deprivation on sensorimotor development and recovery.

Neurons of rat motor cortex become active during both grasping execution and grasping observation

Viaro R.
Primo
;
Maggiolini E.;Farina E.;Canto R.;D'Ausilio A.
Penultimo
;
Fadiga L.
Ultimo
2021

Abstract

In non-human primates, a subset of frontoparietal neurons (mirror neurons) respond both when an individual executes an action and when it observes another individual performing a similar action.1–8 Mirror neurons constitute an observation and execution matching system likely involved in others’ actions processing3,5,9 and in a large set of complex cognitive functions.10,11 Here, we show that the forelimb motor cortex of rats contains neurons presenting mirror properties analogous to those observed in macaques. We provide this evidence by event-related potentials acquired by microelectrocorticography and intracortical single-neuron activity, recorded from the same cortical region during grasping execution and observation. Mirror responses are highly specific, because grasping-related neurons do not respond to the observation of either grooming actions or graspable food alone. These results demonstrate that mirror neurons are present already in species phylogenetically distant from primates, suggesting for them a fundamental, albeit basic, role not necessarily related to higher cognitive functions. Moreover, because murine models have long been valued for their superior experimental accessibility and rapid life cycle, the present finding opens an avenue to new empirical studies tackling questions such as the innate or acquired origin of sensorimotor representations and the effects of social and environmental deprivation on sensorimotor development and recovery.
2021
Viaro, R.; Maggiolini, E.; Farina, E.; Canto, R.; Iriki, A.; D'Ausilio, A.; Fadiga, L.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2472094
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