Effects of action observation on physical training after stroke

Pablo Celnik, Brian Webster, Davis M. Glasser, Leonardo G. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: In healthy humans, observation of another individual performing a motor training task (action observation [AO]) facilitates, in the observer, the effects of physical training (PT) on motor memory formation. It is not known whether this facilitatory process, of potential value for neurorehabilitation, occurs after stroke. METHODS: Eight chronic stroke patients completed this crossover-randomized investigation. A transcranial magnetic stimulation protocol that tests formation of motor memories was used to determine the effects of PT alone and in combination with AO in 2 different forms: congruent (PT+AOcongruent) and incongruent (PT+AOincongruent) to the practiced task. RESULTS: The magnitude of motor memory formation was larger with PT+AOcongruent than with PT alone or PT+ AOincongruent. This effect was associated with a differential corticomotor excitability change in the muscles acting as agonist and antagonist of the trained/observed movements. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that congruent AO in association with physical training can enhance the effects of motor training after stroke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1814-1820
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008


  • Action observation
  • Mirror neurons system
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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