DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18203/2320-6012.ijrms20162265

Mirror neurons and their role in communication

Anjali N. Shete, K. D. Garkal

Abstract


Actions done by others are probably the most important stimuli of our lives. Most of others’ actions do not convey intentional information to the observer. From them, however, we understand   what others are doing and we can infer why they are doing it. This involuntary communication is fundamental for interpersonal relations, and is at the basis of social life. What is the mechanism underlying our capacity to understand others’ actions? The traditional view is that actions done by others are understood in the same way as other visual stimuli. Thus, action understanding is based on the visual analysis of the different elements that form an action. For example, when we observe a girl picking up a flower, the analyzed elements would be her hand, the flower, and the movement of the hand towards the flower. The association of these elements and inferences about their interaction enables the observer to understand the witnessed action. The discovery of neurons that code selectively biological motion has better specified the neural basis of this   recognition mechanism. These theoretical considerations received strong support from the discovery that in the motor cortex of the macaque monkey there is a particular set of neurons that discharge both when the monkey observes a given motor act and when it does the same act. These neurons called “mirror neurons,” represent a system that directly matches observed and executed actions.


Keywords


Mirror neurons, Communication, Language

Full Text:

PDF

References


Perrett DI, Harries MH, Bevan R, Thomas S, Benson PJ, Mistlin AJ, et al. Frameworks of analysis for the neural representation of animate objects and actions. Journal of Experimental Biology. 1980;147:87-113.

Gallese V, Fadiga L, Fogassi L, Rizzolatti G. Action recognition in the premotor cortex. Brain. 1996;119:593-609.

Rizzolatti G, Craighero L. ‘The mirror neuron system’. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2004;27:169-92.

Fogassi L, Ferrari PF, Gesierich B, Rozzi S, Chersi, F, Rizzolatti G. ‘Parietal lobe: from action organization to intention understanding’. Science. 2005;308(5722):662-7.

Gallese, V. ‘Intentional attunement: a neurophysiological perspective on social cognition and its disruption in autism’. Brain Res. 2006;1079(1):15-24.

Freedberg D, Gallese V. ‘Motion, emotion and empathy in esthetic experience’. Trends Cogn Sci. 2007;(5):197-203.

Corballis MC. From Hand to Mouth: The Origins of Language. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 2000.

Jürgens U. Neural pathways underlying vocal control. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2002;26(2):235-58.

Chomsky, N. Cartesian Linguistics. Harper & Row, New York. 1969;5( 01):165-87.

Pinker S. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. Morrow, NewYork. 1994.

Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM. How Monkeys See The World: Inside The Mind Of Another Species. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. 1990.

Armstrong AC, Stokoe WC, Wilcox SE. Gesture and the Nature of Language. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1995.

Corballis MC. From Hand to Mouth: The Origins of Language. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 2002

Rizzolatti G, Arbib MA. Language within our grasp. Trends in Neurosciences. 1998;21:188-94.

Fadiga L, Fogassi L, Pavesi G, Rizzolatti G. Motor facilitation during action observation: a magnetic stimulation study. Journal of Neurophysiology. 1995;73: 2608-11.

Maeda F, Kleiner-Fisman G, Pascual-Leone A. Motor facilitation while observing hand actions: specificity of the effect and role of observer’s orientation. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2002;87:1329-5.

Buccino G, Lui F, Vanessa N, Patteri I, Lagravinese G, Benuzzi F, et al. Neural circuits involved in the recognition of actions performed by nonconspecifics: and FMRI study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 2004;16:114-26.

Grèzes J, Armony JL, Rowe J, Passingham RE. Activations related to “mirror” and “canonical” neurones in the human brain: an fMRI study. NeuroImage. 2003;18:928-37.

Van Hoof J. The facial displays of the catarrhine monkeys and apes. In D.Morris (ed.), Primate Ethology. Weidenfield & Nicolson, London.1967;7-68.

Ferrari PF, Gallese V, Rizzolatti G, Fogassi L. Mirror neurons responding to the observation of ingestive and communicative mouth actions in the monkey ventral premotor cortex. European Journal of Neuroscience. 2003;17: 1703-14.

Vygotsky LS. Thought and Language. MIT Press, Cambridge. Mass. 1934.