gms | German Medical Science

51. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V. (gmds)

10. - 14.09.2006, Leipzig

The Role of the Mirror Neuron System in Rehabilitation with Mirror Therapy following Middle Cerebral Artery Infarction - a pilot fMRI study -

Meeting Abstract

  • Andreas Rothgangel - Universität Maastricht/NL
  • R.A. de Bie - Universität Maastricht, Maastricht
  • C.H.G. Bastiaenen - Universität Maastricht, Maastricht
  • R. van Oostenbrugge - Akademisches Krankenhaus Maastricht, Maastricht
  • W. Backes - Akademisches Krankenhaus Maastricht, Maastricht
  • P. Hofman - Akademisches Krankenhaus Maastricht, Maastricht

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e.V. (gmds). 51. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie. Leipzig, 10.-14.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06gmds445

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: September 1, 2006

© 2006 Rothgangel et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




Mirror therapy or Mirror Visual Feedback (MVF) has shown positive effects in several diseases, as phantom pain, stroke, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and in conditions after chirurgical interventions of the hand [1], [2], [3]. The underlaying neurophysiological mechanisms contributing to the explanation of these effects are however still unclear. We tested the hypothesis that during the application of mirror therapy the activation in the mirror neuron system is higher than during normal movement observation without using the mirror.


The regional cerebral blood flow of four healthy subjects and three stroke patients suffering from middle cerebral artery infarction was analyzed using fMRI while observing finger movements with and without MVF.


During movement observation using MVF a significant increase in cerebral blood flow was observed in the ventral premotor cortex. Furthermore, activation in the visual cortex was lateralized opposite to the seen hand.


MVF seems to recruit the mirror neuron system more than normal movement observation and can facilitate motor recovery. In addition, MVF possibly can modify the body scheme located in the visual cortex.

Figure 1 [Fig. 1] and Figure 2 [Fig. 2].


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