Mirror-touch experiences in the infant brain

M. Addabbo, E. Quadrelli, N. Bolognini, E. Nava, C. Turati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several adult studies have proved the existence of a shared neural circuit in the somatosensory cortices that responds to both the body being touched and the sight of the body being touched. Despite the fundamental role of touch in infancy, the existence of similar visuo-tactile mirroring processes, supporting both felt and seen touch, still needs an in-depth empirical investigation. To this aim, we explored 8-month-olds mu desynchronization over somatosensory sites in response to felt and observed touch in a live experimental setting. EEG desynchronization (6–8 Hz mu frequency range) was measured during three experimental conditions: i) infants were stroked on their right hand by a parent (Touch condition); ii) infants observed a right hand being stroked (Observation Touch condition); iii) infants observed a right hand moving over the left hand without making contact (Action Control condition). Mu desynchronization of somatosensory sites contralateral to the hand being stroked emerged in response to both Touch and Observation Touch conditions, but not in the Action control condition. Further, greater mu desynchronization was found in the Touch and Observation Touch conditions as compared to the Action control condition. Our results highlight the early involvement of a shared somatosensory system, likely supporting infants’ understanding of others’ tactile sensations.

Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)641-649
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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