This study will determine if the type of gesture, increased quantity of an image, and the
number of times a face is shown repeating a gesture bring about activation in the "mirror
neurons." Researchers aim to learn about which areas of the brain are necessary to perform
certain cognitive tasks-that is, relating to a person's thinking or remembering-especially
visual and motor tasks. Because one way humans learn is by imitation, a mechanism is
required to transfer the behavior the person adopts from others through observation. This
type of learning could be based on a mechanism similar to that provided by mirror neurons.
From previous studies it has been learned that the observation of hands and mouths has
brought about the most effective ways of activating the mirror neurons.
Patients ages 21 to 55 who are in good health, are right handed, are not pregnant, and are
native speakers of English may be eligible for this study. There will be about 24
Patients will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Before the scan, they will
complete a safety questionnaire about the presence of any metal in their bodies. Patients
are at risk for injury from the MRI magnet if they have pacemakers, dental implants or other
devices. Female patients will undergo a pregnancy test. The technique MRI uses includes a
strong magnetic field and radio waves to obtain images of body organs and tissues. During
the initial MRI scan, patients will lie still on a table that will slide into the enclosed
tunnel of the scanner. They will be in the scanner for about an hour. During the procedure,
they may be asked to lie as still as possible for up to 20 minutes at a time. As the scanner
takes pictures, patients will hear knocking or beeping sounds. Each participant will wear
earplugs to reduce this noise. They will be able to communicate with the MRI staff at all
times during the scan, and they may ask to be removed from the machine at any time. The
functional MRI (fMRI) scan will involve taking pictures of the brain while patients are
performing tasks. All the tasks will be explained, and patients will have the chance to
practice them before entering the scanner. During the fMRI, patients will view short film
segments of people making gestures. Before and after the scan, patients will be asked to
complete several short questionnaires. The testing sessions will take a total of about 2
Participants will receive compensation for their time and inconvenience, with a maximum
payment of $200. This study will not have a direct benefit for participants.
Objective: The purpose of the protocol is to determine the effects of the social content of
gestures on brain activation patterns. We will localize the extent and areas of brain
activation by using functional MRI during observation of gesture varied by type of gesture,
number of images shown at a time, and number of times a subject is exposed to a face.
Study Population: Healthy, normal adult volunteers will participate in a gesture observation
experiment using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Design: The experiment we are conducting will employ an event-related design to determine
whether increasing the social content of the gesture spreads activation from traditional
sensorimotor regions engaged in mirror movement activity to regions in the prefrontal cortex
(PFC) concerned with processing social behavior.
Outcome Measures: The data collected will consist of accuracy measures of cognitive
performance, fMRI images, and post-questionnaire results. The results gained from this
protocol will provide evidence for a social effect of gesturing.
- INCLUSION CRITERIA:
In all the studies, subjects will consist of healthy, native English-speaking,
right-handed volunteers, as measured by the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory. Subjects will
range in age from 21 to 55 years old and they will be included regardless of race or
Non-native English speakers and non-right handers will be excluded as mentioned above, as
will non-neurologically normal volunteers. Subjects younger than 21 and older than 55 will
be excluded. A urine pregnancy test will be employed with all women of childbearing age.
The results must be negative in order to proceed with the MRI.
Subjects with any of the following: aneurysm clip; implanted neural stimulator; implanted
cardiac pacemaker or auto-defibrillator; cochlear implant; ocular foreign body, e.g. metal
shavings; permanent eyeliner; insulin pump; or irremovable body piercing will be excluded
from the study due to the possible dangerous effects of the magnet upon metal objects in
the body. Subjects taking central nervous system active medications will be excluded.