Monday, August 1, 2011

Mirror Neuron Forum published in Perspectives in Psychological Science

If you haven't seen it already, check out the mirror neuron forum recently published online in Perspectives in Psychological Science. Organized by Art Glenberg, the forum includes answers to ALL the important questions regarding mirror neurons from a group of scientists who represent a range of perspectives on the issues. Authors include Gallese, Gernsbacher, Heyes, Hickok, and Iacoboni. The best part of the forum, though, is that each author wrote responses to the other authors' answers, providing for some interesting discussion.

The mirror neuron forum can be found here.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the discussion.

8 comments:

vkodytek said...

M. Iacobini's reference to Federer seems to tear appart the case of your dog, Greg.
Vilem

Greg Hickok said...

Please elaborate Vilem. I don't see it that way at all. In fact, I think Iacoboni's reference to Federer is a weak point.

vkodytek said...

Here is just a na├»ve explanation. Both Mrs Iacobini and your dog roughly KNOW what the direction of the ball may be (say, a kind of Bayesian guess ”from the outside”) and are able to follow it with her eyes or even to ran and catch it somewhere and somehow. Having no f-KNOWLEDGE of the details, they are acting and enjoying the game fully CONSCIOUSLY in the order of seconds. On the contrary, the Federer’s competitor as well as the experts in the audience like Mr Iacobini watch every detail of Federer’s movements. They f-KNOW what one is likely going to do under such circumstances and they AUTOMATICALLY anticipate the path, speed, rotation etc. of the ball on a timescale of some tens of milliseconds (a kind of Bayesian f-analysis or computation “from the inside”). The expert spectator may even be tempted to slightly move with his hand for Federer to play the ball properly.

Greg Hickok said...

Right. That is MI's argument. So where does the expertise come from? Actually hitting the ball yourself? If yes, does this mean that if I have a two handed backhand I'll play worse against someone with a one handed backhand? Are the best players always te best coaches? Wouldn't simulating your opponents swing interfere with the appropriate motor response (eg running in some direction)? Wouldn't therefore an athlete who uses motor simulation to perceive action be at a severe disadvantage?

The simulation theory only works if you don't think about it too hard.

vkodytek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vkodytek said...

First I must apologize for my repeated misspelling of the name Iacoboni.

I agree with your last comment, Greg. In fact, I didn’t quite mean my first one. It was situational, but the context could not be apparent on the blog. There is nothing wrong with the case of your dog (except that s/he could never become a throwing coach).

Greg Hickok said...

Haha! Yeah, I doubt throwing coach is a career option for my dog. But not because he can't throw! ;-)

Anonymous said...

One of the very best discussions of mirror neurons I have come across. Definitely a step up from the nonsense that has shown up in the popular press.

I am not a neuroscientist and some of the debate is a bit too technical for me but I will say that the notion that a particular type of neuron is responsible for empathy strikes me as very strange. I suspect that mirror neurons are more likely to be involved in allowing humans to join in the kind of patterned movements we see in dance and sports. That is, following the movement of a group.