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A Philosopher's Reflections on the Discovery of Mirror Neurons

Abstract : Mirror neurons fire both when a primate executes a transitive action directed toward a target (e.g., grasping) and when he observes the same action performed by another. According to the prevalent interpretation, action-mirroring is a process of interpersonal neural similarity whereby an observer maps the agent's perceived movements onto her own motor repertoire. Furthermore, ever since Gallese and Goldman's (1998) influential paper, action-mirroring has been linked to third-person mindreading on the grounds that it enables an observer to represent the agent's intention. In this paper, I criticize the prevalent interpretation on two grounds. First, action-mirroring could not result in interpersonal neural similarity unless there was a single mechanism active at different times in a single brain during the execution and the perception of acts of grasping. Second, such a neural mechanism is better conceived as underlying the possession of the concept of grasping than as a basis for mindreading.
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Contributor : Pierre Jacob <>
Submitted on : Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 10:56:35 AM
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  • HAL Id : ijn_00755930, version 1



Pierre Jacob. A Philosopher's Reflections on the Discovery of Mirror Neurons. Topics in cognitive science, Wiley, 2009, 1 (3), pp.570-595. ⟨ijn_00755930⟩



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