Special Issue for Editor Steven SmallFunctions of the Mirror Neuron System: Implications for NeurorehabilitationBuccino, Giovanni MD, PhD*; Solodkin, Ana PhD†; Small, Steven L. MD, PhD† Author Information *Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Sezione di Fisiologia, Universitá di Parma, Via Volturno 39, 43100 Parma, Italy †Department of Neurology and Brain Research Imaging Center, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL Supported in part by the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health of the United States of America under grant R01-DC07488 to the last author (S.L.S.). Additional support was provided by the National Institutes of Mental Health under grant K01-MH-01916 to the second author (A.S.) and by the James McDonnell Foundation Network Research Group. Reprints: Giovanni Buccino, MD, PhD, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Sezione di Fisiologia, Universitá di Parma, Via Volturno 39, 43100 Parma, Italy (e-mail: [email protected]) Received for publication December 19, 2005; accepted January 12, 2006 Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology: March 2006 - Volume 19 - Issue 1 - p 55-63 Buy Abstract Mirror neurons discharge during the execution of hand object-directed actions and during the observation of the same actions performed by other individuals. These neurons were first identified in the ventral premotor cortex (area F5) and later on in the inferior parietal lobule of monkey brain, thus constituting the mirror neuron system. More recently, mirror neurons for mouth object-directed actions have also been found in the monkey. Several pieces of experimental data demonstrate that a mirror neuron system devoted to hand, mouth, and foot actions is also present in humans. In the present paper we review the experimental evidence on the role of the mirror neuron system in action understanding, imitation learning of novel complex actions, and internal rehearsal (motor imagery) of actions. On the basis of features of the mirror neuron system and its role in action understanding and imitation, we discuss the possible use of action observation and imitation as an approach for systematic training in the rehabilitation of patients with motor impairment of the upper limb after stroke. © 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.