Human cortical electroencephalography (EEG) rhythms during the observation of simple aimless movements: A high-resolution EEG study

Claudio Babiloni, Fabio Babiloni, Filippo Carducci, Febo Cincotti, Guido Cocozza, Claudio Del Percio, Davide V. Moretti, Paolo Maria Rossini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the present high-resolution electroencephalographic (EEG) study, we computed event-related desynchronization and synchronization (ERD/ERS) of α (about 10 Hz) and β (about 20 Hz) rhythms in association with the execution (with visual feedback) and observation of brisk unilateral right and left aimless finger movements. A first scope was to test the topographical "functional equivalence" of cortical rhythmicity related to movement execution and observation, which would represent an ideal cortical observation/execution matching system. A second scope was to evaluate the hypothesis of a left or right hemisphere prevalence of the cortical rhythmicity related to the movement observation compared to the movement execution. EEG (128 electrodes) was recorded in 10 healthy right-handed volunteers. Surface Laplacian estimation spatially enhanced EEG data over a MRI-constraint head model. Under both conditions, ERD peaked during the movement execution or observation and was replaced by a ERS "rebound" or "recovery," which peaked during the postevent period. Topographical results are in favor of a "functional equivalence" (i.e., similar ERD/ERS values in magnitude and timing) of α and β rhythmicity in central scalp regions overlying premotor/primary sensorimotor cortex. On the contrary, the functional equivalence of α rhythmicity was negligible (i.e., different ERD/ERS values in magnitude and timing) in parietal-occipital scalp regions overlying posterior parietal and parieto-occipital cortex, which could be the neural substrate to distinguish among the own motor intensions and others' aimless movements (i.e., visuomotor transformation integrated with sensorimotor, postural, and kinematics representations). Finally, the pattern of hemispherical cortical rhythmicity did not support a "simple concentration" of movement observation functions in the left or right hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-572
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Event-related desynchronization (ERD)
  • Event-related synchronization (ERS)
  • High-resolution electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Observation of meaningless motor acts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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