Mirror Neurons Publication date : February 3, 2011
Fifteen years ago, Giacomo Rizzolatti and his research team discovered neurons, in apes, with surprising properties. These neurons were activated not only when the ape performed a task but also when it witnessed the same task being performed by another animal. Thinking about something and doing that thing set the same neurons in motion.
In this accessible book, written in collaboration with the philosopher Corrado Sinigaglia, Giacomo Rizzolatti explains the mechanism and significance of mirror neurons. Not only do these neurons lie at the origins of language, they also explain empathy — a quality shared by humans with some primates that enables them to put themselves in the position of others. In addition, these neurons explain how emotions are expressed.
The discovery of mirror neurons is the most spectacular finding of recent years in the cognitive sciences. This is the first book to provide a synthesis of mirror neurons and to examine the avenues their discovery has opened to help us understand the neuronal mechanisms of social behaviour.
Giacomo Rizzolatti is a professor of human physiology and the director of the Department of Neurosciences at the University of Parma.
Corrado Sinigaglia is a professor of the philosophy of science at the University of Milan.