Mental simulation of facial expressions: Mu suppression to the viewing of dynamic neutral face videos

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Ozge KarakaleIan J Kirk


The mirror neuron network (MNN) has been proposed as a neural substrate of action understanding. Electroencephalography (EEG) mu suppression has commonly been studied as an index of MNN activity during execution and observation of hand and finger movements. However, in order to establish its role in higher order processes, such as recognising and sharing emotions, more research using social emotional stimuli is needed. The current study aims to contribute to our understanding of the sensitivity of mu suppression to facial expressions. Modulation of the mu and posterior alpha (8 - 13 Hz) was calculated in 22 participants while they observed dynamic video stimuli, including emotional (happy and sad) and neutral (mouth opening) facial expressions, and non-face stimuli (kaleidoscope pattern). Neutral faces evoked greater mu than alpha suppression, whereas kaleidoscope evoked greater alpha than mu suppression. Source localisation (sLORETA) analysis comparing the neural sources of alpha modulation between neutral face and kaleidoscope showed more suppression regions of the MNN, including the supplementary motor and somatosensory areas. These results may indicate that reduced availability of emotional information in the mouth opening ...Continue Reading

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