The myth of mirror neurons


Have mirror neurons been oversold?

In the early 1990s a team of neuroscientists reported a new class of brain cells in the macaque monkey and the mirror neuron theory took off. It’s been used to explain many aspects of what it is to be human, including empathy, imitation and even autism. Lynne Malcolm explores whether it’s a theory that has been oversold. Mirror neurons are a new class of brain cells that came to the world’s attention in 1992 when a group of neuroscientists led by Giacomo Rizzolatti in Parma, Italy announced their research findings about how the brain controls actions. These mirror neurons were discovered in the motor cortex of the macaque monkey. Researchers found that these brain cells responded equally well when the monkey performed an action, such as grabbing an object, as they did when they watched someone else make the same movement. ….[READ]


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