Thursday, August 1, 2013

More on Mirror Neurons

A mirror neuron can be defined as a brain thinking cell that fires both when a creature acts and when it observes another performing the same action. These neurons, dubbed “mirror neurons” because they behave as if the observer were itself performing the action, have been observed directly in some primates and birds. Of course, it’s more difficult to observe neurons in human beings. However, researchers have observed brain activity in the human brain’s premotor cortex (frontal lobes), the primary somatosensory cortex (parietal lobes) and the inferior parietal cortex, that is consistent with the concept of mirror neurons. A study by Terje Falck-Ytter, et al found that during the second half of their first year of life infants showed pro-active directed eye movements that seem to require observing the hand of an agent and an object, supporting the mirror neuron account in general. Infants develop this gaze behavior and come to predict others’ actions during the very limited time frame derived from the MSN hypothesis of social recognition. The study conclusion was that the mirror neuron system is likely to predict this process. That does put a different spin on the potential impact of what people choose to watch or what they see when they didn't choose to watch (e.g., situations or movies about war or terrorism acts or other forms of violence).

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