Saturday, November 10, 2007

Talking Brains mirror neuron entry referenced in German science magazine

Our Talking Brains discussion of mirror neurons was recently cited in a German science magazine, bild der wissenschaft. I have no idea what the article says, but I also recognized Alison Gopnik's name, so that's got to be good right? Check it out here.

So David, what's it say?


David Poeppel said...

It says that Gopnik (and perhaps even you) do not believe in the existence of mirror neurons ...

Boy, when Rizzolatti and Arbib and Iacoboni find you in a dark alley .... you are in BIG trouble. You should speak softly and carry a big mirror neuron.

I think they (the German website) overinterpreted your criticism a lot. I can't speak for Gopnik (maybe she does not believe that mirror neurons exist in humans) but I assume that you (Greg) are fine with their existence but argue for a more limited role. Rather than the "this solves imitation, language evolution, language learning, social cognition, emphathy, autism, hair loss, impotence, aging ...." role that the popular press assigns to them now.

Match filters are fine, and have an important role for parity maintenance between input and output systems -- but the mirror neuron extravaganza is out of control, if you ask me.

Greg Hickok said...

Just to be clear (and to alleviate dark alley concerns): I'm a firm believer in mirror neurons. They are an interesting and important discovery. I like mirror neurons and even believe they exist in humans. My only problem is how the interpretation of their function has become overblown, primarily by folks who had nothing to do with their discovery.