Mu rhythm modulation during observation of an object-directed grasp

Suresh D. Muthukumaraswamy*, Blake W. Johnson, Nicolas A. McNair

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

368 Citations (Scopus)


Recent electrophysiological studies have shown that the human electroencephalographic mu rhythm is suppressed during the observation of actions performed by other persons, an effect that may be functionally related to the behaviour of so-called "mirror neurons" observed in area F5 of nonhuman primates. Because mirror neuron activity has been reported to be functionally specific to object-oriented actions, the present study was designed to determine if the human mu rhythm also exhibits this property. EEG measurements were obtained from 12 normal subjects while they observed either a precision grip of a manipulandum or an empty grip using the same hand position. Our results showed that the magnitude of the mu rhythm was significantly lower for the object grip condition than for the empty grip condition. These data support the notion that the human mu rhythm indexes a brain system that is functionally comparable to the monkey mirror neuron system. We propose that nonobject-directed actions may result in representational schemas that are either different or less salient than motorically equivalent actions that are directed toward objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • EEG
  • Goal-directed actions
  • I Neural basis of behaviour
  • Mirror neurons
  • Mu rhythm

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