Misconceptions about Mirror-Induced Motor Cortex Activation


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Abstract

Observation of self-produced hand movements through a mirror, creating an illusion of the opposite hand moving, was recently reported to induce ipsilateral motor cortex activation, that is, motor cortex activation for the hand in rest. The reported work goes far beyond earlier work on motor cortex activation induced by action observation, by implying a complete reversal of contralateral and ipsilateral motor cortex activation under mirror view conditions. Such a reversal would represent an unprecedented degree of neural plasticity. We considered such a reversal physiologically implausible and conducted a study with an improved design. The results refute the reversal of contralateral and ipsilateral motor cortex activation under mirrored viewing conditions as methodologically unsound. The investigation confirmed, however, more subtle expressions of motor cortical activity induced by self-produced movements observed through a mirror.

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