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Understanding Other MindsPerspectives from developmental social neuroscience$
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Simon Baron-Cohen, Michael Lombardo, and Helen Tager-Flusberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199692972

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692972.001.0001

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Mirror neuron system and social cognition

Mirror neuron system and social cognition

(p.233) Chapter 14 Mirror neuron system and social cognition
Understanding Other Minds

Christian Keysers

Marc Thioux

Valeria Gazzola

Oxford University Press

Mirror neuron system and social cognition. We intuitively feel that others have intensions, sensations and emotions. Here we perform a review of the location and properties of mirror neurons in monkeys and of brain regions with similar properties in humans. We interpret this data to suggest that we vicariously recruit our own actions and sensations while witnessing those of others. We review evidence that these vicarious activations contribute to perceiving, predicting and imitating the actions of others, and may even contribute to (directly or through a cross-talk with mentalizing areas) understanding why another person performs a given action. Hebbian associations between our own motor programs and the sensory consequences of executing them seem to wire up mirror neurons during development. Evidence for a mirror neuron dysfunction in autism is however mixed. Finally, a mirror-like mechanism might also exist that triggers our sensation and emotion vicariously while witnessing those of others.

Keywords:   Mirror Neuron System, Hebbian Learning, Autism, Social Cognition, Mentalizing, Action Observation

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