Make no mistake.
These things were not said in this fashion and were not said in this manner in an interview between Mind Matters editor, Jonah Lehrer and neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni in American Scientist magazine.
What you have here is a reinterpretation of the article as it appeared in American Scientist magazine – with my edits and additions. Deletions do not show up because they don’t make for a cogent flow of the main idea that I noted in 2006 when this research broke…
…MIRROR NEURONS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERY IN SCIENCE SINCE THE PERIODIC TABLE…
[or…] = Square parentheses are all JHB’s
So, here goes…
Neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni discusses mirror neurons, autism and the potentially damaging effects of violent movies.
Mind Matters – July 1, 2008
Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Los Angeles, is best known for his work on mirror neurons, a small circuit of cells in the premotor cortex and inferior parietal cortex. What makes these cells so interesting is that they are activated both when we perform a certain action—such as smiling or reaching for a cup—and when we observe someone else performing that same action. In other words, they collapse the distinction between seeing and doing. In recent years, Iacoboni has shown that mirror neurons may be an important element of social cognition and that defects in the mirror neuron system may underlie a variety of mental disorders, such as autism. His new book, Mirroring People: The Science of How We Connect to Others, explores these possibilities at length. Mind Matters editor Jonah Lehrer chats with Iacoboni about his research.
IACOBONI: What do we do when we interact? We use our body to communicate our intentions and our feelings. The gestures, facial expressions, body postures we make are social signals, ways of communicating with one another. Mirror neurons are the only brain cells we know of that seem specialized to code the actions of other people and also our own actions. They are obviously essential brain cells for social interactions. Without them, we would likely be blind to the actions, intentions and emotions of other people. [One can speculate that…]
[Alternatively, the lack of the mirror neurons reduces the initial conditions or blocks the secondary conditioning that some imply exists in the actions of motor behavior and internal emotions related to that motor behavior. These two or twenty things don’t get paired mysteriously in autistic people. They get paired and strengthened by many pairings over time in non-autistic people. Those pairings fit a learning paradigm of conditioning and, lacking that conditioning over time, may be the deficit that we observe in the autistic people.] Patients with autism have also often motor problems and language problems. It turns out that a deficit in mirror neurons can in principle explain also these other major symptoms [as outlined above as learning paradigms]. The motor deficits in autism [are involved] because mirror neurons are special types of premotor neurons, brain cells essential for planning and selecting actions. It has been also hypothesized that mirror neurons may be important in language evolution and language acquisition. [While people that have hearing loss at very early age show some similar speech deficits as found in some autistic people, it can be corrected by speech therapy at a later date if the loss is corrected. It will be interesting to see if, with the ignition of related speech mirror neurons, the speech deficits of autistic people can be repaired or if there is some ‘critical period’ in development that is needed for speech development to proceed optimally.] Indeed, a human brain area that likely contains mirror neurons overlaps with a major language area, the so-called Broca’s area. Thus, a deficit in mirror neurons can in principle account for [involvement in]
LEHRER: Are you worried about mirror neurons getting over-sold or over-hyped?
The original interview can be found @: