Humans and monkey studies showed that specific sectors of cerebellum and basal ganglia activate not only during execution but also during observation of hand actions. However, it is unknown whether, and how, these structures are engaged during the observation of actions performed by effectors different from the hand. To address this issue, in the present fMRI study, healthy human participants were required to execute or to observe grasping acts performed with different effectors, namely mouth, hand, and foot. As control, participants executed and observed simple movements performed with the same effectors. The results show that: (1) execution of goal-directed actions elicited somatotopically organized activations not only in the cerebral cortex but also in the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and thalamus; (2) action observation evoked cortical, cerebellar and subcortical activations, lacking a clear somatotopic organization; (3) in the territories displaying shared activations between execution and observation, a rough somatotopy could be revealed in both cortical, cerebellar and subcortical structures. The present study confirms previous findings that action observation, beyond the cerebral cortex, also activates specific sectors of cerebellum and subcortical structures and it shows, for the first time, that these latter are engaged not only during hand actions observation but also during the observation of mouth and foot actions. We suggest that each of the activated structures processes specific aspects of the observed action, such as performing internal simulation (cerebellum) or recruiting/inhibiting the overt execution of the observed action (basal ganglia and sensory-motor thalamus).

Activation of cerebellum, basal ganglia and thalamus during observation and execution of mouth, hand, and foot actions

Mingolla, Gloria Pompea;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Humans and monkey studies showed that specific sectors of cerebellum and basal ganglia activate not only during execution but also during observation of hand actions. However, it is unknown whether, and how, these structures are engaged during the observation of actions performed by effectors different from the hand. To address this issue, in the present fMRI study, healthy human participants were required to execute or to observe grasping acts performed with different effectors, namely mouth, hand, and foot. As control, participants executed and observed simple movements performed with the same effectors. The results show that: (1) execution of goal-directed actions elicited somatotopically organized activations not only in the cerebral cortex but also in the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and thalamus; (2) action observation evoked cortical, cerebellar and subcortical activations, lacking a clear somatotopic organization; (3) in the territories displaying shared activations between execution and observation, a rough somatotopy could be revealed in both cortical, cerebellar and subcortical structures. The present study confirms previous findings that action observation, beyond the cerebral cortex, also activates specific sectors of cerebellum and subcortical structures and it shows, for the first time, that these latter are engaged not only during hand actions observation but also during the observation of mouth and foot actions. We suggest that each of the activated structures processes specific aspects of the observed action, such as performing internal simulation (cerebellum) or recruiting/inhibiting the overt execution of the observed action (basal ganglia and sensory-motor thalamus).
2023
Action observation
Basal ganglia
Mirror neuron system
Somatotopy
Thalamus
cerebellum
fMRI
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1096587
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