Chapter

Within Each Other:

Marco Iacoboni

in Empathy

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199539956
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191730931 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199539956.003.0005
Within Each Other:

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The chapter discusses neural mechanisms of mirroring in the primate brain and their potential role in empathy. In monkeys, motor neurons that fire while the animal perform an action, also fire when the animal observes another individual performing the same action, or an action that achieves the same goal or is logically related to the performed action. In humans, neural systems active during action execution and action observation, seem to provide a bio‐marker of sociality. Indeed, their activity correlates with the tendency to empathize of the subject and with her/his social competence. Furthermore, recent single cell recordings in humans demonstrate that mirroring neurons are present in many human brain areas, suggesting that this neural system provides a rich mirroring of the actions of other people, and of the emotions and intentions associated with them. It is possible that these neuronal responses have been selected because they provide an effortless, automatic form of intersubjectivity.

Keywords: mirror neurons; imitation; fMRI; mindreading; self

Chapter.  6525 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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