The Myth of Mirror Neurons

look-of-i-know-what-you-are-feeling-empathy-mirror-neurons-play-roleProfessor of Cognitive Science, Gregory Hickok, author of this forthcoming book, cautions: " You might hear it said, for example, that watching a World Cup match is an intense experience because our mirror neurons allow us to experience the game as if we were on the field itself, simulating every kick and pass... this speculation has lost its connection with the data. "We now recognize that physical movements themselves don’t uniquely determine our understanding of them. After all, we can understand actions that we can’t ourselves perform (flying, slithering) and a single movement can be understood in many ways (tipping a carafe can be pouring or filling or emptying). Further research shows that dysfunction of the motor system, for example in cerebral palsy, stroke or Lou Gehrig’s disease, does not preclude the ability to understand actions (or enjoy World Cup matches). Accordingly, more recently developed theories of mirror neuron function emphasize their role in motor control instead of understanding actions.

"So please, take heed. An ounce of myth prevention now may save a pound of neuroscientific nonsense later."

He also takes on the "only using 10%" myth and the strict left/right hemisphere division here.