Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language

Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language

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The emergence of language, social intelligence, and tool development are what made homo sapiens sapiens differentiate itself from all other biological species in the world. The use of language and the management of social and instrumental skills imply an awareness of intention and the consideration that one faces another individual with an attitude analogical to that of one's own. The metaphor of 'mirror' aptly comes to mind.Recent investigations have shown that the human ability to 'mirror' other's actions originates in the brain at a much deeper level than phenomenal awareness. A new class of neurons has been discovered in the premotor area of the monkey brain: 'mirror neurons'. Quite remarkably, they are tuned to fire to the enaction as well as observation of specific classes of behavior: fine manual actions and actions performed by mouth. They become activated independent of the agent, be it the self or a third person whose action is observed. The activation in mirror neurons is automatic and binds the observation and enaction of some behavior by the self or by the observed other. The peculiar first-to-third-person 'intersubjectivity' of the performance of mirror neurons and their surprising complementarity to the functioning of strategic communicative face-to-face (first-to-second person) interaction may shed new light on the functional architecture of conscious vs. unconscious mental processes and the relationship between behavioral and communicative action in monkeys, primates, and humans. The present volume discusses the nature of mirror neurons as presented by the research team of Prof. Giacomo Rizzolatti (University of Parma), who originally discovered them, and the implications to our understanding of the evolution of brain, mind and communicative interaction in non-human primates and man.(Series B)show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 152.4 x 218.44 x 30.48mm | 725.74g
  • John Benjamins Publishing Co
  • Benjamins (John) North America Inc.,US
  • Netherlands
  • English
  • 158811242X
  • 9781588112422

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. I. Mirror neurons system - Past, present, and future of a discovery; 3. The neural correlates of action understanding in non-human primates (by Fogassi, Leonardo); 4. The mirror system in humans (by Rizzolatti, Giacomo); 5. II. Further developments in the study of mirror neurons system and interpretations of its functions; 6. Is the human brain unique? (by Roth, Gerhard); 7. The co-evolution of language and working memory capacity in the human brain (by Gruber, Oliver); 8. Episodic action memory: Characterization of the time course and neural circuitry (by Senkfor, Ava J.); 9. The role of objects in imitation (by Wohlschlager, Andreas); 10. The mirror system and joint action (by Knoblich, Gunther); 11. Brain activation to passive observation of grasping actions (by McGlone, Francis); 12. Mirror neurons and the self construct (by Vogeley, Kai); 13. Behavioral synchronization in human conversational interaction (by Rotondo, Jennifer L.); 14. Symmetry building and symmetry breaking in synchronized movement (by Boker, Steven M.); 15. III. Mirror neurons system and the evolution of brain, communication, and language; 16. On the evolutionary origin of language (by Li, Charles N.); 17. Mirror neurons, vocal imitation, and the evolution of particulate speech (by Studdert-Kennedy, Michael); 18. Constitutive features of human dialogic interaction: Mirror neurons and what they tell us about human abilities (by Weigand, Edda); 19. Some features that make mirror neurons and human language faculty unique (by Stamenov, Maxim I.); 20. Altercentric perception by infants and adults in dialogue: Ego's virtual participation in Alter's complementary act (by Braten, Stein); 21. Visual attention and self-grooming behaviors among four-month-old infants: Indirect evidence pointing to a developmental role for mirror neurons (by Anderson, Samuel W.); 22. The role of mirror neurons in the ontogeny of speech (by Vihman, Marilyn); 23. Mirror neurons' registration of biological motion: A resource for evolution of communication and cognitive/linguistic meaning (by McCune, Loraine); 24. Looking for neural answers to linguistic questions (by Bichakjian, Bernard H.); 25. Mirror neurons and cultural transmission (by Morrison, India); 26. IV. Applications; 27. Mirror neurons and the neural basis for learning by imitation: Computational modeling (by Billard, Aude); 28. Mirror neurons and feedback learning (by Womble, Steve); 29. A connectionist model which unifies the behavioral and the linguistic processes: Results from robot learning experiments (by Sugita, Yuuya); 30. Name index; 31. Subject indexshow more