mirror neuron

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A neuron that is activated when a person performs a certain action or has a certain experience and also when the person observes someone else performing the same action or having the same experience. Mirror neurons provide internal representations of other people's actions, intentions, and emotions, and were first discovered in the brains of macaque monkeys in the early 1990s at the University of Parma in Italy by the Ukrainian-born neurologist Giacomo Rizzolatti (born 1937) and several colleagues and the findings published in the journal Experimental Brain Research in 1992. In humans, brain imaging studies have suggested that mirror neurons responsive to observed bodily movements are located in the superior temporal sulcus and that others are present in the inferior gyrus of the parietal lobe and of the motor cortex. Mirror neurons that respond to emotions or pain being experienced by others have been found in the insula and cingulate gyrus. Mirror neurons provide direct and immediate understanding of actions and emotions and are believed to be implicated in social cognition, social learning, skill learning, language, empathy, and theory of mind. Dysfunctional mirror neurons may explain the primary symptoms of autism. See also mu wave. [So called because these neurons reflect in an individual's brain actions performed or emotions experienced by another]

Subjects: Psychology.

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