Mirror Neuroscience.pljames

May 2011
Marble, N.C.

Back in the 1990s neuroscientists at the University of Parma identified cells in the premotor cortex of monkeys that had an unusual response pattern. They were activated when the monkeys performed a given action and, mirror-like, when they saw another individual perform that same movement. Since then, the precise function and influence of these neurons has become perhaps the most hyped topic in neuroscience.

The hype

In 2000, Vilayanur Ramachandran, the charismatic neuroscientist, made a bold prediction: “mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology.” He's at the forefront of a frenzy of excitement that has followed these cells ever since their discovery. For many, they have come to represent all that makes us human.