Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Myth of Mirror Neurons comment forum

Now that the Myth of Mirror Neurons is starting to ship, I'd like to hear your thoughts.  Use the comment box on this post to ask questions, correct my errors, provide counterpoints, or whatever.


Larry Arnhart said...

I have written a blog post on your book: http://darwinianconservatism.blogspot.com/2014/08/hume-smith-and-myth-of-mirror-neurons.html

Larry Arnhart

Frank Garcea said...

Hi Greg,

I want to start off by saying how much I enjoyed the book--primarily how you tied together the evidence from neuropsychology (apraxia and aphasia) as it relates to mirror neurons and embodied cognition.

I have two questions:

1) Recently Georg Goldenberg wrote a book on apraxia, and a discussion forum in Cortex soon followed which had reactions/responses from various researchers. Will there be any formal response/discussion forum from mirror neuron/embodied cognition supporters? I would be very interested to read their rebuttals!

2) Of the many interesting topics you cover in the book, one talked about conceptual representations and in particular where in the brain might abstract knowledge reside (a la Binder et al., 2009). The Binder et al. paper is nice, but is there patient evidence that suggests that damage to the angular gyrus results in multi-modal conceptual impairments? There is of course the large body of literature that argues it is the anterior temporal lobes which houses such representations, and so I guess my question is should we devote our attention to the temporal lobes when it comes to abstract conceptual representations? and, as you propose in your book, action recognition as well? (It would be great if I could simultaneously ask this question to you and Alfonso Caramazza!)

Frank Garcea

Greg Hickok said...

Thanks for the feedback Frank. I'm hoping to have some discussion with proponents of the mirror neuron perspective and the embodied cognition folks. Of course, this blog is always open for discussion and push back. I have always been willing to publish comments (guest posts) from anyone who wants to promote an alternative position.

There's been a little back-and-forth on Twitter (@GregoryHickok) so you can follow along there.

As editor of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review I've begun and effort to promote discussion of embodied cognition more broadly. Brad Mahon (former Caramazza student) is currently guest editing a special issue that will publish critical reviews and allow a rebuttal from a prominent embodied cognition researcher (TBA).

Regarding #2, you are right, we need to look to the lesion evidence again to see what it can tell us about high level conceptual impairments. ATL has become the focus due to semantic dementia, but deficits have been reported with more posterior lesions (e.g., Gordon & Hart is a classic, but only involved 3 cases). One complication is that such high level networks may be bilateral, making it hard to study with stroke. (Note: SD is a bilateral disease.) I would be surprised if ATL was the only conceptual knowledge hub.

Larry Arnhart said...


Why don't you submit a proposal to Behavioral and Brain Sciences for a symposium on your book?

Greg Hickok said...

I could, but it would have to go beyond the discussion here:

Gallese, V., Gernsbacher, M. A., Heyes, C., Hickok, G., & Iacoboni, M. (2011). Mirror neuron forum. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 369-407.

and here:

Hickok, G. (2013). Do mirror neurons subserve action understanding? Neurosci Lett, 540, 56-58. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.11.001

Sinigaglia, C. (2013). Clarifying the role of the mirror system: interviewed by Gregory Hickok. Neurosci Lett, 540, 62-66. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.11.029