Movement is intrinsically linked to perception such that observing an action induces in the observer behavioral changes during execution of similar actions. Electroencephalogram (EEG) studies have revealed that at the group level, action observation suppresses oscillatory power in mu (8–12 Hz) and beta (15–25 Hz) bands over the sensorimotor cortex – a phenomenon associated with increased excitability of cortical neurons. However, it is unclear whether differences in suppression level across individuals is linked with individual differences in subsequent behavioral changes. Here 32 subjects performed self-paced finger tapping with their right hand before and after observation of a video displaying finger-tapping at either 2 or 4 Hz. Behaviorally, subjects’ rate of self-pace tapping increased following observation, with higher increases following 4 Hz observation. The level of EEG power suppression in the low frequency range (low mu; 8–10 Hz) during observation corresponded to subsequent behavioral changes in tapping rate across individuals. Our results demonstrate that observing actions implicitly shifts subsequent execution rates, and that individual differences in the level of this implicit shift can be explained by activity in the sensorimotor cortex during observation.
- Action observation
- Event-related desynchronization
- Mu suppression