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Mirror Neurons

Multimedia
  1. "Mirror Neurons" Associated with Empathy (Scientific American)
      "This video segment, adapted from NOVA scienceNow, describes the recent discovery and implications of mirror neurons, a specific kind of brain cell that fires both when performing an action and when observing someone else perform the same action. It turns out that mirror neurons, which are normally associated with physical activities, might also be responsible for signaling the human brain's emotional system, which in turn allows us to empathize with other people. Their failure to work normally might explain why some people, including autistic people, do not interact well with others."

News
  1. "Mirror Neurons" Associated with Communication Impairment (Scientific American)
      "More than one in 500 children have some form of autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control. All autistic children suffer from an impaired ability to communicate and relate to others, but some of them are able to socially interact to a greater degree than their peers. A recent study of a group of these so-called high functioning autistics suggests the neurological basis for their social impairment."

      "Neuroscientist Mirella Dapretto of the University of California Los Angeles and her colleagues surveyed the brains of 10 autistic children and an equal number of nonautistic children as they watched and imitated 80 different faces displaying either anger, fear, happiness, sadness or no emotion."

      "The autistic children differed from their peers in only one respect: each showed reduced activity in the pars opercularis of the inferior frontal gyrus--a brain region located near the temple."

Papers
  1. Asperger's Syndrome and the Mirror-Neuron System (American Psychological Association)
      "A new type of neuron--called a mirror neuron--could help explain how we learn through mimicry and why we empathize with others." 12-05.

  2. Asperger's Syndrome and the Mirror-Neuron System (American Psychological Association)
      "New research suggests that a malfunctioning mirror-neuron system could be behind the social isolation of autism."

      "Imitation appears to be the primary function of mirror neurons. People without working mirror neurons would need to analyze a movement before attempting to copy it, while those with a working mirror system can do so automatically. In line with this theory, a decade of research has shown that people with autism tend to have difficulty imitating others, especially when those movements are complex, says Tager-Flusberg." 12-05.

  3. Asperger's Syndrome and the Mirror-Neuron System (American Psychological Association)
      "New research suggests that a malfunctioning mirror-neuron system could be behind the social isolation of autism."

      "Imitation appears to be the primary function of mirror neurons. People without working mirror neurons would need to analyze a movement before attempting to copy it, while those with a working mirror system can do so automatically. In line with this theory, a decade of research has shown that people with autism tend to have difficulty imitating others, especially when those movements are complex, says Tager-Flusberg." 12-05.

  4. Emotional Cues Without Facial Cues (New York Times)
      "Researchers have long known that facial expressions are crucial to social interaction and have categorized them in great detail. They know which expressions are universal; they can distinguish slight differences in expression, for example between a polite smile and a genuine one."

      "Still, a central question remains: How does the brain interpret othersí expressions so quickly and accurately? The answer is likely to be enormously important, experts say, both for understanding how social interactions can go smoothly and how they can go off track."

      "Studies so far point to what psychologists call facial mimicry. During a social exchange, people subconsciously mirror each otherís surprise, disgust or delight ó and, in effect, interpret the emotion by sensing whatís embodied on their own face. Interfere with the ability to mimic, these studies suggest, and people are less adept at reading othersí expressions." 04-10

  5. Mirror Neurons Associated with Viewing Behaviors (American Psychological Association)
      "Then Greenfield learned that researchers had found mirror neurons--nerve cells that fire when primates not only produce a goal-directed action but also watch someone else produce the same action--for manual actions (such as grasping) in the F5 brain area in monkeys, a Broca's homologue, and in Broca's area in humans." 12-05.

   
   


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