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EmpathyPhilosophical and Psychological Perspectives$
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Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199539956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199539956.001.0001

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Within Each Other:

Within Each Other:

Neural Mechanisms for Empathy in the Primate Brain

(p.45) 4 Within Each Other:

Marco Iacoboni

Oxford University Press

The chapter discusses neural mechanisms of mirroring in the primate brain and their potential role in empathy. In monkeys, motor neurons that fire while the animal perform an action, also fire when the animal observes another individual performing the same action, or an action that achieves the same goal or is logically related to the performed action. In humans, neural systems active during action execution and action observation, seem to provide a bio‐marker of sociality. Indeed, their activity correlates with the tendency to empathize of the subject and with her/his social competence. Furthermore, recent single cell recordings in humans demonstrate that mirroring neurons are present in many human brain areas, suggesting that this neural system provides a rich mirroring of the actions of other people, and of the emotions and intentions associated with them. It is possible that these neuronal responses have been selected because they provide an effortless, automatic form of intersubjectivity.

Keywords:   mirror neurons, imitation, fMRI, mindreading, self

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