The influence of intrapersonal sensorimotor experiences on the corticospinal responses during action–observation
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The coupling of perception and action has been strongly indicated by evidence that the observation of an action primes a response in the observer. It has been proposed that these primed responses may be inhibited when the observer is able to more closely distinguish between self- and other-generated actions - the greater the distinction, then the greater the inhibition of the primed response. This self-other distinction is shown to be enhanced following a period of visual feedback of self-generated action. The present study was designed to examine how sensorimotor experiences pertaining to self-generated action affect primed responses from observed actions. Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to investigate corticospinal activity elicited during the observation of index- and little-finger actions before and after training (self-generated action). For sensorimotor training, participants executed finger movements with or without visual feedback of their own movement. Results showed that the increases in muscle-specific corticospinal activity elicited from action-observation persisted after training without visual feedback, but did not emerge following training with visual feedback. This inhibition in corticospinal activity during action-observation following training with vision could have resulted from the refining of internal models of self-generated action, which then led to a greater distinction between "self" and "other" actions.
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