NEURONAS ESPEJO Y ONDAS MU

Aunque en Autismo Diario hemos abordado varias veces el tema de las Neuronas Espejo, hoy vamos a profundizar un poco más, incluyendo también a las Ondas MU, que ya os trajimos a raíz de la conferencia de Montserrat Palau el pasado día 8.

Neuronas Espejo

Toda la información que hemos recopilado, o las conferencias a las que hemos asistido, han coincidido en un nivel muy técnico, así que vamos a intentar explicar de forma sencilla en qué consisten y por qué son tan importantes para la comprensión del autismo.

Las Neuronas Espejo fueron descubiertas entre finales de los 80 e inicios de los 90, por un equipo de la universidad de Parma (Italia), y fue un descubrimiento casual. Ya que en realidad lo que el equipo Italiano estudiaba eran las neuronas que se encargaban del movimiento, y más en concreto de la mano. Y con un macaco al que habían monitorizado con electrodos, descubrieron que cuando manipulaban cosas delante del campo de visión del macaco, sus neuronas de movimiento se “ponían en marcha”, y lo que pensaron que era un error en los equipos, acabó siendo uno de los grandes descubrimientos de la neurociencia.

Se denominan neuronas espejo a un tipo determinado de neuronas que se “activan” cuando un congénere desarrolla una actividad, en un proceso de imitación de la acción del congénere, estas neuronas replican la acción pero a nivel emocional.

De esta forma si alguien toma un delicioso pastel, sentiremos la sensación placentera, pero no el sabor del pastel. Como es lógico, las neuronas espejo son fundamentales en la publicidad, nos transmiten sensaciones que somos capaces de replicar de forma puramente emocional.

Se cree que desempeñan un papel primordial en el área de las capacidades cognitivas ligadas a la sociabilidad, empatía o imitación. Por tanto, una disfunción de las mismas encajaría perfectamente los Trastornos del Espectro del Autismo, ya que algunas de las áreas de lenguaje, empatía, sociabilidad,…, la teoría de la mente, se ven afectadas. Y estas están muy relacionadas con las neuronas espejo.

Ondas MU

Las ondas MU son ondas espontáneas que se encuentran en la banda de frecuencia entre 8 Hz y 13 Hz, igual que las ondas Alfa. Ellas se registran principalmente en la zona Sensorio-motora, área 3,2,1 de Brodmann (ver Figura 1) y se registran en la posición C del sistema de colocación de electrodos, manifestando una atenuación durante el movimiento o intento de movimiento de extremidades.Se llaman ondas Mu por su forma (Figura 2)

Hace tiempo que se sabe que existe un componente del electroencefalograma (EEG), la onda MU, que se bloquea cuando una persona hace un movimiento muscular voluntario.

Este componente también se bloquea cuando una persona ve a alguien realizar la misma acción,este hecho nos sugiere que podemos monitorizar la eficiencia de las Neuronas Espejo en base a la supresión de las ondas MU.

En los niños con autismo se ha observado que la supresión de la onda MU, sí se produce cuando realizan un movimiento voluntario, pero no cuando observan a alguien realizar la acción, de lo cual se deduce que el sistema motor está intacto, pero no así el sistema de neuronas espejo.

Esto significa que a través de EEG, podemos saber si ante un acción determinada, si las ondas MU del sujeto se activan o no, al hacer el sujeto la acción o al ver realizarla. Si la supresión se produce tan solo en un caso, disponemos de una prueba de que algo sucede en las neuronas espejo, y por extensión lo que ello conlleva en el campo de diagnóstico precoz.

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