Perceiving others in action / la perception d'autrui en action

Abstract

In a New York Times article last month, entitled Cells that read minds, the neuroscience reporter, Sandra Blakeslee (January 10, 2006) provided a list of all the things that mirror neurons can explain. As we know, mirror neurons, discovered by Rizzolattis group in Parma, are neurons that are activated when we engage in action, and when we perceive intentional movement in another person. According to Blakeslee and the scientists she interviewed, mirror neurons explain not only how we are capable of understanding another persons actions, but also language, empathy, how children learn, why people respond to certain types of sports, dance, music and art, why watching media violence may be harmful and why many men like pornography. Let me set aside the controversial questions about whether mirror neurons can explain all of these things, and accept that mirror neurons are clearly smart little cells. But let me ask whether Blakeslee and her scientists are expressing things in the right way.

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Shaun Gallagher
University of Memphis

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