Is the human mirror neuron system plastic? Evidence from a transcranial magnetic stimulation study

Mehta, Urvakhsh Meherwan ; Waghmare, Avinash V. ; Thirthalli, Jagadisha ; Venkatasubramanian, Ganesan ; Gangadhar, Bangalore N. (2015) Is the human mirror neuron system plastic? Evidence from a transcranial magnetic stimulation study Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 17 . pp. 71-77. ISSN 1876-2018

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Virtual lesions in the mirror neuron network using inhibitory low-frequency (1 Hz) transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have been employed to understand its spatio-functional properties. However, no studies have examined the influence of neuro-enhancement by using excitatory high-frequency (20 Hz) repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (HF-rTMS) on these networks. We used three forms of TMS stimulation (HF-rTMS, single and paired pulse) to investigate whether the mirror neuron system facilitates the motor system during goal-directed action observation relative to inanimate motion (motor resonance), a marker of putative mirror neuron activity. 31 healthy individuals were randomized to receive single-sessions of true or sham HF-rTMS delivered to the left inferior frontal gyrus – a component of the human mirror system. Motor resonance was assessed before and after HF-rTMS using three TMS cortical reactivity paradigms: (a) 120% of resting motor threshold (RMT), (b) stimulus intensity set to evoke motor evoked potential of 1-millivolt amplitude (SI1mV) and (c) a short latency paired pulse paradigm. Two-way RMANOVA showed a significant group (true versus sham) X occasion (pre- and post-HF-rTMS motor resonance) interaction effect for SI1mV [F(df) = 6.26 (1, 29), p = 0.018] and 120% RMT stimuli [F(df) = 7.01 (1, 29), p = 0.013] indicating greater enhancement of motor resonance in the true HF-rTMS group than the sham-group. This suggests that HF-rTMS could adaptively modulate properties of the mirror neuron system. This neuro-enhancement effect is a preliminary step that can open translational avenues for novel brain stimulation therapeutics targeting social-cognition deficits in schizophrenia and autism.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to Elsevier B.V..
Keywords:Broca's Area; Social Cognition; TMS; Mirror Neurons.
ID Code:118478
Deposited On:21 May 2021 10:42
Last Modified:21 May 2021 10:42

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