The laboratory's research

The central line of research of the laboratory pertains to studying the hypothesized role of the mirror neuron system (MNS) in the development of cognitive functions, social perception, interaction and communication, and elaborating a relevant theory to help integrate the accumulated knowledge.
During the last decade, the researchers of the mirror neuron system (MNS) broadly discuss the possibility of this system being an important part of the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the processes of learning through imitation and the development of optimal social communication. The reaction of desynchronization of the EEG sensorimotor rhythms (within the mu-alpha and mu-beta frequencies) is considered to be one of the indicators of the MNS activation effects. However the relevance of these EEG rhythms to the MNS is questioned by many authors.
Our current research activities are focused on further analyzing the reactivity patterns of the EEG sensorimotor rhythms as a possible measure of assessing the development of the neural networks providing the processes of efficient learning and social interaction. As a result, there will be studied the patterns of reactivity of the EEG sensorimotor rhythms in healthy individuals within different age groups, in connection with their cognitive, communicative and emotional development, as well as in the samples of children with the attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and symptoms associated with the autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The study is going to provide the novel data about the reactivity of the EEG sensorimotor rhythms in children of different age groups (early childhood, preschoolers, schoolers) and adults in the process of performance, observation and real-time imitation of hand movements performed with a computer mouse. There will be designed the novel methods of assessing the levels of cognitive and emotional development in children and adults, based on the results of their EEG patterns pertaining to different frequency bands. Additionally, there will be measured the changes in cognitive development (voluntary attention, IQ) and social interaction (empathy) in schoolers, resulting from the series of the EEG biofeedbacksessions based on training the power of sensorimotor rhythms, which is going to help in distinguishing the causal relationships between these rhythms and behavioral correlates of the MNS functioning.