4Important QuestionsWhy is it that we get so deeply involved in such things as sports, videogames, movies, dances?Why is it that we have such strong emotional responses?How is it that we can read other people's body language and faces so well?What is it that allows us to connect so deeply when we watch other humans?
5The answer?...Mirror Neurons! a special circuitry found on both sides of the brain that helps us whenever we look at each othergive us the ability to connect with one anotherthe brain's way of translating what we see so we can relate to the world and understand it
7Discovery of Mirror Neurons Giacomo RizzolattiPlaced electrodes in the premotor cortexWanted to study neurons specialized for the control of hand actionsPicking things up, grasping, etc.Mirror neurons actually found by chanceWrote about their discovery in 1992
8Monkey Evidence In monkeys Originally found in premotor cortex Same neurons fire when1. When monkey performs a goal-directed action2. When monkey observes a similar action
9Monkey Evidence (cont.) Same activity seen whenMonkey saw entire actionMonkey could not see completion of actionThese studies suggest that the activity of mirror neurons correlates with action understanding.
10Not just a monkey thing... it is a people thing too! Growing up as children, first you see, then you dothrough this process we develop a rich basis of knowledge that we can use to apply to how we see other peoplewhen we see we experience
12Simulationsuch strong responses, because if you know the feeling... then your mirror neurons fire as if you were experiencing the action yourselfexamples: carrying a stack of packages, watching sports
13Human Evidence Mu rhythm Suppressed when the brain is engaged in doing, seeing or imagining actionSeems to correlate to mirror neuron activityIn most people, the mu wave is suppressed both in response to their own movement and to observing the movement of others.
14Human Evidence (cont.)fMRI shows regions activated when performing an action and witnessing an action.-Red = experiencing disgust-Yellow = witnessing disgustLeft insula
15Not just actions… but FEELINGS too! Marco Iacoboni of UCLA did fMRI studies of emotional facesResults: the same neurons fired when you imitated a face seen on a picture (actually moving the facial muscles), as well as when you just looked at the picturesuggests that mirror neurons send signals to the limbic and emotional systems in the brainthis in turn allows us to empathize!
16Think about actors experts of the mirror neuron system humans instinctively respond to emotion seen in other's faces and bodies
17What does all this mean?Deep in our architecture and biological makeup, we are meant to be together, and socially interact.
18Mirror Neuron Dysfunction Many researchers have concluded that Autism is the result of Mirror Neuron Dysfunction
19Characteristics of Autism Infants:Avoid contact & fail to anticipate being picked upFirst Few Years of Development:Might develop some skills such was walking or talking quicker than normal but other developments are considerably delayed
20Characteristics of Autism (cont’d.) Toddlers:Abnormal behaviorsStart to see social dysfunctions“Insistence of sameness”Lack of imaginary playAvoidance of eye contact
21Theory of Mind” and Autistic Individuals the cognitive capacity to attribute independent mental states to self and others in means to predict and explain behavior, beliefs, intentions and actions.Autistic Individuals are lacking the ability to attribute mental states or understand that another individual has a different perspective
22Cognition in Autistic Individuals Common tests of Cognition:False-belief tasksInstruct Autistic child to show a photograph to another childRecording of brain activity when performing a task and then watching same task being performed by another individual
23Cognition in Autistic Individuals (cont’d) Savant Skills: 10% of autistic kids seem to have a certain remarkable talentUltimately, it has been concluded that individuals with autism are lacking mirror neurons that would normally allow them to have an understanding of the thoughts, feelings, actions and emotions of others.Savant Musician Ellen
25Neurocomputing and Robotics Anthropomorphic “humanoid” robots that socially interact with humans.Discovery of the mirror neuron system allows for finer tuning of social interactions between robots and humansOberman, McCleery, Ramachandran, and Pineda prove that mirror neurons aren’t specifically for biological interaction
26Stroke Studies and Emotion Emotion- “the experience and expression of feeling states” –Cummings and BogousslavskyInstrumental function deficits would produce impairment of emotional comprehension (both verbal and non verbal)Lesions impairing fundamental functions would produce disorders of emotional experienceLesions impairing executive/integrative function would produce impairment of emotional control and expression
27Stroke Studies and Emotion (cont’d) Stroke should then produce neurological state that depends on the damaged structure/functionDamage to:Instrumental FunctionAnosognosiaFundamental FunctionsDeficit/Productive Syndromes (ie mania, depression, psychosis)Executive/integrative functionsDisroders of empathy
28More StudiesCongenital phantom limb cases and developmental theory for the basis of body imageExecution/Observation StudiesMirror Neurons and therapeutic hypnosisMirror neurons and neurorehabilitationMu rhythms and neurocomputing
29References http://www.autism.org/overview.html Bodini B., Iacoboni M., Lenzi G.L. Acute stroke effects on emotions: an interpretation through the mirror system. Curr Opin Neurol Feb;17(1):55-60.Price E.H. A critical review of congenital phantom limb cases and a developmental theory for the basis of body image. Conscious Cogn Jun;15(2):Oberman L.M., McCleery J.P., Ramachandran V.S., Pineda J.A. EEG evidence for mirror neuron activity during the observation of human and robot actions: Toward an analysis of the human qualities of interactive robots. Neural Computing, 2006
30References (cont.)Gallese V., Keysers C., Rizzolatti G. A unifying view of the basis of social cognition. TRENDS in Cog Sci Sep; 8(9):Giacomo Rizzolatti1 and Laila Craighero2Rizzolatti G., Craighero L. The Mirror Neuron System. Annu. Rev. Neurosci :169–92