A mirror up to nature

Ilan Dinstein, Cibu Thomas, Marlene Behrmann, David J. Heeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Mirror neurons were first documented in the macaque monkey a little over ten years ago. Their discovery has led to the formulation of several theories about their function in humans, including suggestions that mirror neurons are involved in understanding the meaning and intentions of observed actions, learning by imitation, feeling empathy, formation of a 'theory of mind', and even the development of language. Hypotheses have also been made about the consequences of mirror neuron dysfunction; foremost among these is the notion that such a dysfunction during development leads to many of the social and cognitive symptoms associated with the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Yet, despite a decade of prolific research on these appealing theories, there is little evidence to support them. In this essay, we review the current state of 'mirror system' research, point to several weaknesses in the field, and offer suggestions for how better to study these remarkably interesting neurons in both neurotypical and autistic individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Biology
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 8 2008

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Mirror Neurons
Neurons
Mirrors
neurons
Theory of Mind
Neurobehavioral Manifestations
Language Development
Macaca
language development
Research
Haplorhini
Emotions
Learning
signs and symptoms (animals and humans)
monkeys
learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

A mirror up to nature. / Dinstein, Ilan; Thomas, Cibu; Behrmann, Marlene; Heeger, David J.

In: Current Biology, Vol. 18, No. 1, 08.01.2008.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Dinstein, I, Thomas, C, Behrmann, M & Heeger, DJ 2008, 'A mirror up to nature', Current Biology, vol. 18, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2007.11.004
Dinstein, Ilan ; Thomas, Cibu ; Behrmann, Marlene ; Heeger, David J. / A mirror up to nature. In: Current Biology. 2008 ; Vol. 18, No. 1.
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