Variability in the effector-specific pattern of motor facilitation during the observation of everyday actions : implications for the clinical use of action observation

Authors: Hétu, SébastienGagné, MartinJackson, Philip L.Mercier, Catherine
Abstract: Action observation is increasingly considered as a rehabilitation tool as it can increase the cortical excitability of muscles involved in the observed movements and therefore produce effector-specific motor facilitation. In order to investigate the action observation mechanisms, simple single joint intransitive movements have commonly been used. Still, how the observation of everyday movements which often are the prime target of rehabilitation affects the observer cortical excitability remains unclear. Using transcranial magnetic stimulations, we aimed at verifying if the observation of everyday movements made by the proximal or distal upper-limb produces effector-specific motor facilitation in proximal (arm) and distal (hand) muscles of healthy subjects. Results suggest that, similar to simple intransitive movements, observation of more complex everyday movements involving mainly the proximal or distal part of upper limb induces different patterns of motor facilitation across upper limb muscles (P=0.02). However, we observed large inter-individual variability in the strength of the effector-specific motor facilitation induced by action observation. Yet, subjects had similar types of response (strong or weak effector-specific effects) when watching proximal or distal movements indicating that the facilitation pattern was highly consistent within subjects (r=0.83-0.88, P<0.001). This suggests that some individuals are better than other at precisely mapping the observed movements on their motor repertoire and that this type of response holds for various types of everyday actions.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 13 July 2010
Open Access Date: Restricted access
Document version: VoR
This document was published in: Neuroscience, Vol. 170 (2), 589–598 (2010) 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.07.015
Alternative version: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.07.015
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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