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Using mu rhythm desynchronization to measure mirror neuron activity in infants


Claes von Hofsten or Pär Nyström, Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Box 1225, SE 75142 Uppsala, Sweden; e-mail: or


The Mirror Neuron System hypothesis stating that observed actions are projected onto the observer’s own action system assigns an important role to development, because only actions mastered by the observer can be mirrored. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether there is evidence of a functioning mirror neuron system (MNS) in 8-month-old infants. High-density EEG was used to assess the mu rhythm desynchronization in an action observation task where the infants observed a live model. To reduce noise, ICA decompositions were used. The results show a higher desynchronization of the mu rhythm when infants observed a goal-directed action than when they observed a spatially similar non-goal-directed movement. The localizations of the sources are in agreement with those proposed by the MNS hypothesis. This indicates that the MNS is functioning at this age.

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