Observing repetitive finger movements modulates response times of auditorily cued finger movements

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Biermann-Ruben, Katja ; Jonas, Melanie ; Kessler, Klaus ; Siebner, Hartwig Roman ; Bäumer, Tobias ; Schnitzler, Alfons ; Münchau, Alexander (2008)

Our motor and perceptual representations of actions seem to be intimately linked and the human mirror neuron system (MNS) has been proposed as the mediator. In two experiments, we presented biological or non-biological movement stimuli that were either congruent or incongruent to a required response prompted by a tone. When the tone occurred with the onset of the last movement in a series, i.e., it was perceived during the movement presentation, congruent biological stimuli resulted in faster reaction times than congruent non-biological stimuli. The opposite was observed for incongruent stimuli. When the tone was presented after visual movement stimulation, however, no such interaction was present. This implies that biological movement stimuli only affect motor behaviour during visual processing but not thereafter. These data suggest that the MNS is an “online” system; longstanding repetitive visual stimulation (Experiment 1) has no benefit in comparison to only one or two repetitions (Experiment 2).
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