Mirror Neurons Essay

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Mirror neurons have been one of the most exciting neurological discoveries in recent years. Some researchers have even gone as far as comparing the discovery of mirror neurons to DNA. Mirror neurons may be analogous to other human sensory systems and some believe that mirror neurons represent their own unique sensory system. Mirror neurons fire when a person or animal performs certain activities as well as when they watch another perform the same activity (Winerman, 2005). Basically, they allow animals and humans to imitate and possibly even learn from others. While the original studies were conducted in monkeys, recent research has extended the theory to humans and other abilities outside of basic motor movements. In this paper, research…show more content…
It was not long before researchers began to apply these initial animal findings to humans and uniquely human behaviors such as empathy and language. Were mirror neurons behind our ability to use and learn language? Could mirror neurons help to explain our social connectedness and our ability to understand others? Making the Leap from Monkeys to Humans After the initial identification in monkeys, researchers were eager to look for the same system in humans (Winerman, 2005). However, neuroscientists could not use the same single-unit recording that had been used with the sample of monkeys. Rizzolatti and Fadiga examined human hand-muscle twitching suing motor-evoked potentials (Winerman, 2005). These are signals that a muscle is ready to move. The researchers found that the potentials from watching an experimenter grasp and object matched the potentials that were recorded when the participants actually grasped the object themselves. After this initial study, the work on humans has used both fMRI and EEG methodologies. Other neuroscientist, Marco Iacoboni found that when college students watched an experimenter make finger movements and when they actually made the finger movements themselves activity in some of the same regions of the frontal cortex and parietal lobe (Winerman, 2005). While the studies on perception of action and interesting and important, they did not address some of
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