Saturday, January 21, 2006

Mirror Neurons

Some rather Anonymous Coward mentioned mirror neurons at coffee club as being a possible source for predictive even 'extrasensory' perception. Even if there is no way they are doing anything of the sort they certainly are interesting:
An article on mirror neurons by a very influential neuroscientist, V.S. Ramachandran.
A short and simple PBS doco on mirror neurons.
Mirror Neuron talk is also included in the Emerging Mind lectures 2003 from the BBC (also with V.S. Ramachandran) and I thought these lectures were an excellent listen.


7 comments:

rob said...

NO there is a bit of mirror neuron talk on the Emerging Brain lectures.

Anonymous Coward said...

Perhaps by having a well develloped mirror-neuron system one could emulate a good mental model or approximation of other people's toughts and that it could give the impression of having extrasensory "mind-reading" skills. Perhaps some people are inherently good at this, or maybe you can train yourself just like tennis or piano. Interrestingly, Penrose postulated that this ability may be the basis of consciousness. Perhaps conciousness arises when one's mental model of the world is comprehensive enough to include a model of other people's toughts, and a model of your own toughts. A brain in a brain if you will.

rob said...

Hey anon coward,
I posted this and your reponse on IA. Hope that you mind.
rob

Bayman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bayman said...

Although I would love to meet someone with ESP, I don't see "mirror neurons" shedding any light on the matter. In fact to the contrary, if I understand correctly, they were discovered by observing neural activity during a monkey's entirely normal, sensory experience. The monkey's mirror neurons were seen to fire in response specifically to the sensory visual perception of a human researcher's movements. Thus, while the experiment may help confirm that monkeys have some sort of sensory visual system it tells us nothing about the presence or absence of any extrasensory perceptive abilities.

Anonymous Coward said...

Again I think you miss my subtle point, so I'll spell it out. The point of the monkey experiment is that he observed a third party's behaviour and fired the sequence of neurons within his own brain as if HE was doing that particular movement. Now he wasn't doing the behaviour, he was litterally putting himself in the "shoes" of the other monkey. Now this is a motor behaviour but empathy works the same way. I.E. if a monkey looks sad in front of a squished banana, the other monkey may look at his the facial expression, and then at the banana and actually feel empathy. The monkey will be feeling as though his own banana was squished. It's as though he was in the other monkey's brain. If the monkey is very good at reading subtle emotional cues in the facial expression of his mate he can deduce what his mate is thinking! You guys are too cought up in the "extra-sensory" litteral meaning. It gives the IMPRESSION of being extra sensory because the monkey is not DIRECTLY experiencing the sensory stimulus it is emulating it in his own monkey brain.

Anonymous Coward said...

Another example: When I was in mexico my sister had an allergic reaction to shellfish and felt very sick. I could read her distress in her body language very well. Yet what struck me is that I felt sick to my own stomach. It was as though I was experiencing the sensory information within my own digestive tract. Now the only sensory information I had was visual, there was no sensory information coming from my real digestive tract, it was coming from the "mirror image" of her digestive tract within my brain. There is no neuron coming from her to my brain and hence this was by definition extra-sensory.