Mirror Neurons and Behavior
Research scientists postulate that we imagine ourselves acting out or mirroring movements that we see. This ability seems to be genetic or hardwired since infants can imitate the movements of others. It is possible that mirroring actions is adaptive and may play a role in learning how to do things, and it may facilitate social interactions. More interesting than the actions is the thought that we may have special neurons in our brains that help facilitate imitation. These neurons have been named mirror neurons, and they can be found not only in human beings but also in nonhuman animals.
Answer the following questions:
- Mirror neurons have a distinctive shape and a specific location in the brain. What are the morphology (shape) and location of mirror neurons? Does their location seem to make sense, given that the neurons are thought to play a role in imitation?
- Some nonhuman animals have mirror neurons in their brains. Which other species have mirror neurons? Are these animals more social than animals that do not seem to have mirror neurons?
- When there is a relatively new discovery in the brain, that discovery is often used to explain current diseases and disorders. What are the applied research trends for mirror neurons in the scientific literature? Are there any particular disorders that are being connected to mirror neurons? What is it about these disorders that make people connect them to mirror neurons?