Background. Recent evidence suggested that Action Observation Therapy (AOT), based on observation of actions followed by immediate reproduction, could be a useful rehabilitative strategy for promoting functional recovery of children affected by unilateral cerebral palsy (UCP). AOT most likely exploits properties of the parieto-premotor mirror neuron system (MNS). This is more intensely activated when participants observe actions belonging to their own motor repertoire. Objective. The aim of the present study was to investigate the issue of whether MNS of UCP children is better activated by actions performed by a paretic hand rather than a healthy one. Methods. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we assessed brain activation in a homogeneous group of 10 right UCP children compared with that of 10 right-handed typically developing (TD) children, during observation of grasping actions performed by a healthy or a paretic hand. Results. The results revealed a significant activation within the MNS in both UCP and TD children, more lateralized to the left hemisphere in the TD group. Most important, region of interest (ROI) analysis on parietal and premotor regions showed that, in UCP, the MNS was more strongly activated by observation of actions performed by the paretic hand, a motor model more similar to the observer's motor repertoire. Conclusions. This study shows that children affected by spastic UCP exhibit enhanced activation of the MNS during observation of goal-directed actions performed by a pathological model with respect to a healthy one.
Mirror Neuron System Activation in Children With Unilateral Cerebral Palsy During Observation of Actions Performed by a Pathological Model / Errante, A; Di Cesare, G; Pinardi, C; Fasano, F; Sghedoni, S; Costi, S; Ferrari, A; Fogassi, L. - In: NEUROREHABILITATION AND NEURAL REPAIR. - ISSN 1545-9683. - 33:6(2019), pp. 419-431. [10.1177/1545968319847964]
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