Minitheories Of Emotion


MIRROR NEURONS THEORY. Recent physiological research indicates that mirror neurons, first located in the rostral part of monkeys' ventral premotor cortex (called "area F5"), discharge under conditions both when the animal performs a goal-directed hand action and when it observes another individual performing the same, or a similar, action (i.e., "imitation gestures" and "affor-dances"). Also, in the same cortical area, mirror neurons have been found that respond to the observation of mouth actions. In humans, it has been shown that the observations of actions performed with the hand, the mouth, and the foot leads to activation of different sectors of Broca's area [a cortical region involved in the production of language - named after the French surgeon and anthropologist Paul Broca (1824-1880) who discovered its function in 1861] and premotor cortex, according to the effector involved in the observed action, and follows a somatotopic pattern resembling the classical motor cortex "homunculus." Such observations and results support the mirror neuron theory regarding the hypothesized existence of an execution-observation matching system (mirror neuron system). According to the mirror neuron theory, the mirror-neuron substrates promote language abilities in humans, where the neurons appear to represent a system that matches observed events to similar, internally generated actions and, in this way, forms a link between the observer and the actor. In one case (Weigand, 2002), a theory of human dialogic interaction is proposed that contains a methodology focusing on how the constitutive features of language are confirmed by the discharging of mirror neurons. Mirror neurons theory also hypothesizes that there is a very general, evolutionarily ancient mechanism, called the "resonance mechanism," through which pictorial descriptions of motor behaviors are matched directly on the observer's motor "representations" of the same behaviors. The "resonance mechanism" is posited to be a fundamental mechanism at the basis of inter-individual relations, including some behaviors commonly described as "imitative." Thus, mirror neurons theory has implications for several classes of behavior and related issues, including imitation, autism, language origins and production, motor activity, implicit-procedural memory, and learning. Inas much as the mirror neurons show activity in relation both to specific actions performed by self and matching actions performed by others, the theory provides a potential neuro-physiological and neuropsychological "bridge between minds." See also AFFORDANCE THEORY; EMPATHY THEORY; HOMUN-CULUS/SENSORY HOMUNCULUS HYPOTHESES; LANGUAGE ORIGINS, THEORIES OF; MIND/MENTAL STATES, THEORIES OF; NEURON/NEURAL/NERVE THEORY; RIGHT-SHIFT THEORY; SPEECH THEORIES. REFERENCES

Miklosi, A. (1999). From grasping to speech: Imitation might provide a missing link. Trends in Neurosciences, 22, 151-152.

(2000). Mirror neurons, procedural learning, and the positive new experience: A developmental systems self psychology approach. Journal of the American Academy of Psy-chophysics and Dynamic Psychiatry, 28, 409-430. Rizzolatti, G., Craighero, L., & Fadiga, L.

(2002). The mirror system in humans. In M. Stamenov & V. Gallese (Eds.), Mirror neurons and the evolution of brain and language. Amsterdam, Netherlands: J. Benjamins. Rizzolatti, G., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., & Gallese, V. (2002). From mirror neurons to imitation: Facts and speculations. In A. N. Meltzoff & W. Prinz (Eds.), Imitative mind: Development, evolution, and brain bases. New York: Cambridge University Press. Vihman, M. M. (2002). The role of mirror neurons in the ontogeny of speech. In M. Stamenov & V. Gallese (Eds.), Mirror neurons and the evolution of brain and language. Amsterdam, Netherlands: J. Benjamins. Weigand, E. (2002). Constitutive features f human dialogic interaction: Mirror neurons and what they tell us about human abilities. In M. Stamenov & V. Gallese (Eds.), Mirror neurons and the evolution of brain and lan guage. Amsterdam, Netherlands: J. Benjamins.

Buccino, G., & Binkofski, F. (2004). The mirror neuron system and action recognition. Brain & Language, 89, 370-376.

MIRROR-REVERSAL PHENOMENON/ EFFECT. The issue of why a mirror - when we look into it - appears to reverse right and left, but not up and down, has been debated ever since the Greek philosopher Plato (c. 427-347 B.C.) answered it incorrectly in the 4th century B.C. More recently, explanations for the mirror-reversal effect have been proposed by the American science-writer Martin Gardner (1914- ) and the English psychologist Richard L. Gregory (1923- ). In the former case, Gardner suggests that because the image appears behind the mirror, the viewer performs a mental rotation of it, using the vertical axis of rotation; however, this explanation is lacking because the operation of mental rotation under these conditions takes too much time to account for the experienced phenomenon. In the latter case, Gregory offers a seemingly more satisfying and correct solution to the issue: a mirror doesn't reverse left and right or top and bottom, but in order to see the reflection of an object/person, the viewer has to rotate it physically about the horizontal axis to face the mirror; when this is done, the image appears left-right reversed because the object/person is left-right reversed relative to the orientation of the reflected image. Looking into a mirror, a mirror image of one's own face appears left-right reversed for the same reason; in order to look into a mirror, one perceptually turns horizontally through 180-de-grees relative to the reflected image that is about to be produced. In terms of unconscious inference, one cannot face the same way as the reflected image, because then the person would be facing away from the mirror (cf., Holmes, Roeckelein, & Olmstead, 1968). See also PERCEPTION (I. GENERAL), THEORIES OF; PERCEPTION (II. COMPARATIVE APPRAISAL), THEORIES OF; UNCONSCIOUS INFERENCE, DOCTRINE OF; VISION/SIGHT, THEORIES OF.

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