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Evidence for mirror systems in emotions.

Bastiaansen JA, Thioux M, Keysers C - Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. (2009)

Bottom Line: We will show that seeing the emotions of others also recruits regions involved in experiencing similar emotions, although there does not seem to be a reliable mapping of particular emotions onto particular brain regions.The relative contributions of these components to a particular emotion and their interrelationship are largely unknown, although recent experimental evidence suggests that motor simulation may be a trigger for the simulation of associated feeling states.Through their integration with, and modulation by, higher cognitive functions, they could be at the core of important social functions, including empathy, mind reading and social learning.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: BCN NeuroImaging Center, University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 2, 9713 AW Groningen, The Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Why do we feel tears well up when we see a loved one cry? Why do we wince when we see other people hurt themselves? This review addresses these questions from the perspective of embodied simulation: observing the actions and tactile sensations of others activates premotor, posterior parietal and somatosensory regions in the brain of the observer which are also active when performing similar movements and feeling similar sensations. We will show that seeing the emotions of others also recruits regions involved in experiencing similar emotions, although there does not seem to be a reliable mapping of particular emotions onto particular brain regions. Instead, emotion simulation seems to involve a mosaic of affective, motor and somatosensory components. The relative contributions of these components to a particular emotion and their interrelationship are largely unknown, although recent experimental evidence suggests that motor simulation may be a trigger for the simulation of associated feeling states. This mosaic of simulations may be necessary for generating the compelling insights we have into the feelings of others. Through their integration with, and modulation by, higher cognitive functions, they could be at the core of important social functions, including empathy, mind reading and social learning.

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Anatomical locations of the motor and somatosensory components of simulation. (a) Lateral view of the human brain with the location of the ventral premotor cortex (BA6/BA44) and the inferior parietal lobule (IPL). (b) Lateral view showing the location of the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex (SI/SII).
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RSTB20090058F1: Anatomical locations of the motor and somatosensory components of simulation. (a) Lateral view of the human brain with the location of the ventral premotor cortex (BA6/BA44) and the inferior parietal lobule (IPL). (b) Lateral view showing the location of the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex (SI/SII).

Mentions: Simulation theories were greatly stimulated by the study of action execution and action observation in monkeys. Two reciprocally connected areas, namely area F5 in the ventral premotor cortex and the parietal area PF, were found to contain individual neurons that respond both to the execution of hand-object interactions and the sight of similar actions (see Keysers & Perrett 2004; Rizzolatti & Craighero 2004 for reviews). Owing to their common role in first (I grasp) and third person (he grasps) perspectives, these neurons were named ‘mirror neurons’. Linking what the monkey sees people do to what it does itself might provide it with an intuitive insight into the actions of others. Given their properties, mirror neurons seem particularly well suited to providing insights into the actions of conspecifics (Gallese et al. 1996; Rizzolatti et al. 1996, 2001; Umilta et al. 2001; Kohler et al. 2002). In recent years, evidence has accumulated for the existence of a mirror neuron system (MNS) for actions in humans (see figure 1a). Arguably, the most convincing evidence comes from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies. FMRI indirectly measures brain activity by estimating the level of blood oxygenation in cubes of brain tissue named voxels, whereas TMS uses magnetic stimulation to either stimulate or transiently impair a cortical region. FMRI shows that the ventral premotor cortex (BA44/6), inferior parietal lobule (IPL), as well as somatosensory areas (BA2 in particular) involved in executing the actions become reactivated while subjects view or hear similar actions performed by others (Grezes et al. 2003; Buccino et al. 2004; Gazzola et al. 2006, 2007a). Finding the same voxel involved in execution and perception, however, cannot ensure that the same neurons within the voxel (which is usually around 3 × 3 × 3 mm in size) are involved in both cases (Dinstein et al. 2008). Various researchers are now taking on the challenge to create experimental fMRI designs that can better address the neural response selectivity in the MNS than the usual movement observation and imitation protocols (Dinstein et al. 2007). In contrast, TMS experiments show that observing the actions of others specifically facilitates the execution of similar actions (Fadiga et al. 1995) and that applying repetitive TMS on the premotor or somatosensory cortex impairs this motor facilitation (Avenanti et al. 2007; Catmur et al. 2009). This demonstrates both that the vision of an action directly activates motor programmes for executing similar actions and that the link between vision and action occurs in the somatosensory and premotor areas identified by the fMRI experiments. This suggests that the MNS is indeed where perception meets action in the brain.


Evidence for mirror systems in emotions.

Bastiaansen JA, Thioux M, Keysers C - Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. (2009)

Anatomical locations of the motor and somatosensory components of simulation. (a) Lateral view of the human brain with the location of the ventral premotor cortex (BA6/BA44) and the inferior parietal lobule (IPL). (b) Lateral view showing the location of the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex (SI/SII).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2865077&req=5

RSTB20090058F1: Anatomical locations of the motor and somatosensory components of simulation. (a) Lateral view of the human brain with the location of the ventral premotor cortex (BA6/BA44) and the inferior parietal lobule (IPL). (b) Lateral view showing the location of the primary and secondary somatosensory cortex (SI/SII).
Mentions: Simulation theories were greatly stimulated by the study of action execution and action observation in monkeys. Two reciprocally connected areas, namely area F5 in the ventral premotor cortex and the parietal area PF, were found to contain individual neurons that respond both to the execution of hand-object interactions and the sight of similar actions (see Keysers & Perrett 2004; Rizzolatti & Craighero 2004 for reviews). Owing to their common role in first (I grasp) and third person (he grasps) perspectives, these neurons were named ‘mirror neurons’. Linking what the monkey sees people do to what it does itself might provide it with an intuitive insight into the actions of others. Given their properties, mirror neurons seem particularly well suited to providing insights into the actions of conspecifics (Gallese et al. 1996; Rizzolatti et al. 1996, 2001; Umilta et al. 2001; Kohler et al. 2002). In recent years, evidence has accumulated for the existence of a mirror neuron system (MNS) for actions in humans (see figure 1a). Arguably, the most convincing evidence comes from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies. FMRI indirectly measures brain activity by estimating the level of blood oxygenation in cubes of brain tissue named voxels, whereas TMS uses magnetic stimulation to either stimulate or transiently impair a cortical region. FMRI shows that the ventral premotor cortex (BA44/6), inferior parietal lobule (IPL), as well as somatosensory areas (BA2 in particular) involved in executing the actions become reactivated while subjects view or hear similar actions performed by others (Grezes et al. 2003; Buccino et al. 2004; Gazzola et al. 2006, 2007a). Finding the same voxel involved in execution and perception, however, cannot ensure that the same neurons within the voxel (which is usually around 3 × 3 × 3 mm in size) are involved in both cases (Dinstein et al. 2008). Various researchers are now taking on the challenge to create experimental fMRI designs that can better address the neural response selectivity in the MNS than the usual movement observation and imitation protocols (Dinstein et al. 2007). In contrast, TMS experiments show that observing the actions of others specifically facilitates the execution of similar actions (Fadiga et al. 1995) and that applying repetitive TMS on the premotor or somatosensory cortex impairs this motor facilitation (Avenanti et al. 2007; Catmur et al. 2009). This demonstrates both that the vision of an action directly activates motor programmes for executing similar actions and that the link between vision and action occurs in the somatosensory and premotor areas identified by the fMRI experiments. This suggests that the MNS is indeed where perception meets action in the brain.

Bottom Line: We will show that seeing the emotions of others also recruits regions involved in experiencing similar emotions, although there does not seem to be a reliable mapping of particular emotions onto particular brain regions.The relative contributions of these components to a particular emotion and their interrelationship are largely unknown, although recent experimental evidence suggests that motor simulation may be a trigger for the simulation of associated feeling states.Through their integration with, and modulation by, higher cognitive functions, they could be at the core of important social functions, including empathy, mind reading and social learning.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: BCN NeuroImaging Center, University of Groningen, Antonius Deusinglaan 2, 9713 AW Groningen, The Netherlands.

ABSTRACT
Why do we feel tears well up when we see a loved one cry? Why do we wince when we see other people hurt themselves? This review addresses these questions from the perspective of embodied simulation: observing the actions and tactile sensations of others activates premotor, posterior parietal and somatosensory regions in the brain of the observer which are also active when performing similar movements and feeling similar sensations. We will show that seeing the emotions of others also recruits regions involved in experiencing similar emotions, although there does not seem to be a reliable mapping of particular emotions onto particular brain regions. Instead, emotion simulation seems to involve a mosaic of affective, motor and somatosensory components. The relative contributions of these components to a particular emotion and their interrelationship are largely unknown, although recent experimental evidence suggests that motor simulation may be a trigger for the simulation of associated feeling states. This mosaic of simulations may be necessary for generating the compelling insights we have into the feelings of others. Through their integration with, and modulation by, higher cognitive functions, they could be at the core of important social functions, including empathy, mind reading and social learning.

Show MeSH