Transient Human Cortical Responses During the Observation of Simple Finger Movements: A High-Resolution EEG Study

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-resolution event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to model the hemispherical representation of the transient cortical responses relating to the observation of movement during execution (right or left aimless finger extension). Subjects were seated in front of the observed person and looked at both their own and the observer's hand to receive similar visual feedback during the two conditions. In a visual control condition, a diode light moved at the observed person's hand. A first potential accompanying the movement execution peaked at about +110 msec over the contralateral somatomotor areas. It was followed by a potential (P300) peaking at about +350 msec over the central midline. In contrast, the potentials accompanying the movement observation peaked later over parietal-occipital other than somatomotor areas (N200 peak, +200 msec; P300 peak, +400 msec). Notably, the N200 was maximum in left parietal area whereas the P300 was maximum in right parietal area regardless the side of the movement. They markedly differed by the potentials following the displacement of the diode light. These results suggest a rapid time evolution (∼200-400 msec) of the cortical responses characterizing the observation of aimless movements (as opposite to grasping or handling). The execution of these movements would mainly involve somatomotor cortical responses and would be scarcely founded on the visual feedback. In contrast, the observation of the same movements carried out by others would require dynamical responses of somatomotor and parietal-occipital areas (especially of the right hemisphere), possibly for a stringent visuospatial analysis of the motor event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-157
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Event-related potentials (ERPs)
  • Hemispherical asymmetry
  • High-resolution EEG
  • Movement observation
  • Voluntary simple movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology

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