Book: The Myth of Mirror Neurons

The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition by Gregory Hickok

Summary Mirror neurons are neurons that trigger both when an action is observed and when the action is performed. These neurons were first discovered in monkeys, and their role has been subject to great debate ever since. On the one hand at first blush thee neurons appear to be useful in explaining how perceptions can be linked to actions. On further reflection one might be led to speculate how these neurons might explain empathy, help explain language, and even be useful for a theory of the mind. In this book these later ideas are put to the test.

Rating Probably the most interesting part of this book is being exposed to the methods of argument in cognitive neuroscience. These are both subtle, and of a form that contrasts significantly with the cold hard concreteness of the theoretical fields which I know best. The book has lots of long sections trying to flesh out arguments, so not for the faint of mind. Oh that is a bad pun.

Speculation Mirror neurons show external actions being reflected in a brain at the same place the action is generated. But why do external actions not trigger our own actions? Suppose that they could. Wait, why am I hungry watching the ads during the olympics?

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