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The mirror neuron system

The emerging view about the mirror mechanism is that it does not concern only the parieto-premotor network, but rather it encompasses a variety of cortical and subcortical centers (1). More specifically, centers for action execution are not distinct from centers for action perception; actions are perceived when the corresponding motor centers are activated. Preliminary data show that the same mechanism is at the basis of emotion recognition.

The research of Parma unit covers two main lines of research: In the first, by using the unique opportunity to record intracranial activity in humans in collaboration with Niguarda Hospital in Milan, we aim at assessing whether areas related to complex behaviors become active both during action production and perception. This approach is unique because during the recording, patients are free to move and to perform actions impossible to study by means of other techniques (2). The second line concerns autism and its neural bases. At present, we are studying how motor impairments in children with autism impact on their communicative and social capacities (3,4). This second line will be conducted in collaboration with two IN sections: Pisa (5) and Milano (6).

Representative publications

Maddalena Fabbri Destro Avanzini Pietro

Giacomo Rizzolati (Associate)