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friday :: march 11, 2005
   
 
mirror neurons

One of the more intriguing recent discoveries in brain science is the existence of "mirror neurons," a set of neurons in the premotor area of the brain that are activated not only when performing an action oneself, but also while observing someone else perform that action. It is believed mirror neurons increase an individual's ability to understand the behaviors of others, an important skill in social species such as humans. A critical aspect of understanding the behavior of another person is recognizing the intent of his actions--is he coming to praise me or to bury me? In the premier open-access journal PLoS Biology, Marco Iacoboni and colleagues use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show that the mirror neuron system tracks not only the actions, but also the intentions, of others. >from *Predicting the future: mirror neurons reflect the intentions of others*. PLoS Biol 3(3): e109. February 22, 2005

In a study that broadens our understanding of the neural basis of social interactions, researchers have shown that individuals with autism display abnormal patterns of activity in brain circuits that underlie the understanding of other people's behavior. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized in part by marked social deficits.

The basis of the study is a population of brain cells called mirror neurons, which are active both when we execute a specific action and when we see that action performed by another. It has been argued that mirror neurons are an essential part of recognizing actions performed by other individuals. As such, complex behaviors such as imitation, emotional processing, and language may depend on a simulation-like process whereby the observation of motor, sensory, or affective (e.g., emotional) states in others activates corresponding representations in the observer.

In the new work, researchers show that in some particular instances, brain areas that are normally active during the observation of hand movements are silent in individuals with autism. Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation, the researchers showed that when autistic subjects passively viewed meaningless finger movements, brain activity in the motor cortex was unchanged from baseline values, whereas this activity was markedly enhanced in non-autistic individuals. The work suggests that a faulty mirror-neuron system could represent the neural underpinnings of the social deficits characteristic of autism, alterations that ultimately lead to reduced reciprocal social abilities and perhaps prevent the normal development of empathy. >from *Abnormal brain activity during the observation of others' actions*. Clues to autism's neural basis. February 7, 2005


related context
>
new research questions basic tenet of neuron function. 'challenge one of the established views of how nerve cells communicate with one another.' february 17, 2005
> brain region learns to anticipate risk, provides early warnings. 'the anterior cingulate cortex, described by some scientists as part of the brain's 'oops' center, may actually function as an early warning system.' february 17, 2005
> brain synapse formation linked to proteins. 'critical connections that neurons form in the brain turn out to rely on glia. ninety percent of human brain cells are glia and it's completely a mystery what they do.' february 10, 2005
> others' intentions. march 5, 2004

imago
>
mirror your neurons expressions

sonic flow
>
mirror neurons. march 11, 2005. [work in progress]
this context' capsule with antÚnia folguera voice and x-flow sonic background ("una atmosfera de desconeixenssa, un coixi sonor, sobre el qual es van succein una serie de senyals, que es van repetint i evolucionant espaialment, pero en alguns moments, aquestes senyals es perden com a repeticions per ser intents fallits")
mirror neurons [stream]
mirror neurons [download]

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