Mirror neurons, the representation of word meaning, and the foot of the third left frontal convolution

de Zubicaray, Greig, Postle, Natasha, McMahon, Katie, Meredith, Matthew and Ashton, Roderick (2010) Mirror neurons, the representation of word meaning, and the foot of the third left frontal convolution. Brain and Language, 112 1: 77-84. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2008.09.011

Author de Zubicaray, Greig
Postle, Natasha
McMahon, Katie
Meredith, Matthew
Ashton, Roderick
Title Mirror neurons, the representation of word meaning, and the foot of the third left frontal convolution
Journal name Brain and Language   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0093-934X
Publication date 2010-01-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.bandl.2008.09.011
Volume 112
Issue 1
Start page 77
End page 84
Total pages 8
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Subject 320700 Neurosciences
420100 Language Studies
Abstract Previous neuroimaging research has attempted to demonstrate a preferential involvement of the human mirror neuron system (MNS) in the comprehension of effector-related action word (verb) meanings. These studies have assumed that Broca’s area (or Brodmann’s area 44) is the homologue of a monkey premotor area (F5) containing mouth and hand mirror neurons, and that action word meanings are shared with the mirror system due to a proposed link between speech and gestural communication. In an fMRI experiment, we investigated whether Broca’s area shows mirror activity solely for effectors implicated in the MNS. Next, we examined the responses of empirically determined mirror areas during a language perception task comprising effector-specific action words, unrelated words and nonwords. We found overlapping activity for observation and execution of actions with all effectors studied, i.e., including the foot, despite there being no evidence of foot mirror neurons in the monkey or human brain. These “mirror” areas showed equivalent responses for action words, unrelated words and nonwords, with all of these stimuli showing increased responses relative to visual character strings. Our results support alternative explanations attributing mirror activity in Broca’s area to covert verbalisation or hierarchical linearisation, and provide no evidence that the MNS makes a preferential contribution to comprehending action word meanings. Copyright © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keyword Broca’s area
Language comprehension
Mirror neurons
Action observation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 1 November 2008.

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Created: Mon, 01 Feb 2010, 11:28:55 EST by Rosalind Blair on behalf of Centre for Advanced Imaging