Brain regions with mirror properties: a meta-analysis of 125 human fMRI studies

Molenberghs, Pascal, Cunnington, Ross and Mattingley, Jason (2012) Brain regions with mirror properties: a meta-analysis of 125 human fMRI studies. Neuroscience Biobehavioral Reviews, 36 1: 341-349. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.07.004

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Author Molenberghs, Pascal
Cunnington, Ross
Mattingley, Jason
Title Brain regions with mirror properties: a meta-analysis of 125 human fMRI studies
Journal name Neuroscience Biobehavioral Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0149-7634
Publication date 2012-01-01
Year available 2011
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.07.004
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 36
Issue 1
Start page 341
End page 349
Total pages 9
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Subject 2802 Behavioral Neuroscience
2805 Cognitive Neuroscience
3206 Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
Abstract Mirror neurons in macaque area F5 fire when an animal performs an action, such as a mouth or limb movement, and also when the animal passively observes an identical or similar action performed by another individual. Brain-imaging studies in humans conducted over the last 20 years have repeatedly attempted to reveal analogous brain regions with mirror properties in humans, with broad and often speculative claims about their functional significance across a range of cognitive domains, from language to social cognition. Despite such concerted efforts, the likely neural substrates of these mirror regions have remained controversial, and indeed the very existence of a distinct subcategory of human neurons with mirroring properties has been questioned. Here we used activation likelihood estimation (ALE), to provide a quantitative index of the consistency of patterns of fMRI activity measured in human studies of action observation and action execution. From an initial sample of more than 300 published works, data from 125 papers met our strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. The analysis revealed 14 separate clusters in which activation has been consistently attributed to brain regions with mirror properties, encompassing 9 different Brodmann areas. These clusters were located in areas purported to show mirroring properties in the macaque, such as the inferior parietal lobule, inferior frontal gyrus and the adjacent ventral premotor cortex, but surprisingly also in regions such as the primary visual cortex, cerebellum and parts of the limbic system. Our findings suggest a core network of human brain regions that possess mirror properties associated with action observation and execution, with additional areas recruited during tasks that engage non-motor functions, such as auditory, somatosensory and affective components.
Keyword Action observation
Activation likelihood estimation
Inferior frontal cortex
Inferior parietal cortex
Mirror neurons
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID 511148
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 18 July 2011.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
Official 2013 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 273 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 13 Mar 2012, 00:38:19 EST by Debra McMurtrie on behalf of Queensland Brain Institute