Friday, August 23, 2013

Mirror mirror in the Brain

There's been a lot of discussion concerning Mirror Neurons (MN) in both the professional literature and the popular press. They are represented as just what the neuro-scientist ordered to exlain learning, empathy, other minds, whatever. Greg Hickok is in the process of finishing a book on this timely topic, and, unless the final product ends up saying the opposite of what I read (very unlikely), MN enthusiasts will be in for a rough time.  At the very least the cognitive benefits MNs are supposed to endow have been massively oversold, if he is correct.  I encourage you to get the book when it finally comes out. The title, Greg tells me, is "The Myth of Mirror Neurons: the real neuroscience of communication and cognition." To whet your appetite for the full course meal, Greg has allowed me to cross list some of his better posts from Talking Brains. So here's an hors d'oeuvre: here, here, here, here, and here. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Alas, the very success of data on mirror neurons has led to over-interpretation and a consequent over-reaction of "mirror neuron bashing." I too have read parts of Greg Hickok's book and find that he ignored those parts of the mirror neuron literature that seek to assess the role of mirror neurons not as a standalone system but rather as part of a larger system "beyond the mirror." One such treatment is offered in my book "How the Brain Got Language: The Mirror System Hypothesis" (Oxford UP, 2012). Readers wishing to evaluate the state of the debate will welcome the dozen commentaries about to appear in "Language and Cognition.," 2013, 5(2-3).
    Michael Arbib