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Mirror Neurons Cognitive explanation for social phenomena.

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Presentation on theme: "Mirror Neurons Cognitive explanation for social phenomena."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mirror Neurons Cognitive explanation for social phenomena

2 Outline Veronica HoolSocial Implications David Piccinati Anatomy/Physiology Sara Robinson Autism Steve ShawCurrent/Future Research

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4 Important Questions Why 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?

5 The answer?...Mirror Neurons! a special circuitry found on both sides of the brain that helps us whenever we look at each other give us the ability to connect with one another the brain's way of translating what we see so we can relate to the world and understand it

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7 Discovery of Mirror Neurons Giacomo Rizzolatti –Placed electrodes in the premotor cortex –Wanted to study neurons specialized for the control of hand actions Picking things up, grasping, etc. Mirror neurons actually found by chance –Wrote about their discovery in 1992

8 Monkey Evidence In monkeys –Originally found in premotor cortex –Same neurons fire when 1. When monkey performs a goal-directed action 2. When monkey observes a similar action

9 Monkey Evidence (cont.) Same activity seen when –Monkey saw entire action –Monkey could not see completion of action These studies suggest that the activity of mirror neurons correlates with action understanding.

10 Not just a monkey thing... it is a people thing too! Growing up as children, first you see, then you do through this process we develop a rich basis of knowledge that we can use to apply to how we see other people when we see  we experience

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12 Simulation such strong responses, because if you know the feeling... then your mirror neurons fire as if you were experiencing the action yourself examples: carrying a stack of packages, watching sports

13 Human Evidence Mu rhythm –Suppressed when the brain is engaged in doing, seeing or imagining action –Seems to correlate to mirror neuron activity –In most people, the mu wave is suppressed both in response to their own movement and to observing the movement of others.

14 Human Evidence (cont.) fMRI shows regions activated when performing an action and witnessing an action. -Red = experienci ng disgust -Yellow = witnessing disgust Left insula

15 Not just actions… but FEELINGS too! Marco Iacoboni of UCLA did fMRI studies of emotional faces Results: 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 picture suggests that mirror neurons send signals to the limbic and emotional systems in the brain this in turn allows us to empathize!

16 Think about actors experts of the mirror neuron system humans instinctively respond to emotion seen in other's faces and bodies

17 What does all this mean? Deep in our architecture and biological makeup, we are meant to be together, and socially interact.

18 Mirror Neuron Dysfunction Many researchers have concluded that Autism is the result of Mirror Neuron Dysfunction

19 Characteristics of Autism Infants: Avoid contact & fail to anticipate being picked up First Few Years of Development: Might develop some skills such was walking or talking quicker than normal but other developments are considerably delayed

20 Characteristics of Autism (cont’d.) Toddlers: –Abnormal behaviors –Start to see social dysfunctions –“Insistence of sameness” –Lack of imaginary play –Avoidance of eye contact

21 Theory of Mind” and Autistic Individuals “Theory of Mind” 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

22 Cognition in Autistic Individuals Common tests of Cognition: –False-belief tasks –Instruct Autistic child to show a photograph to another child –Recording of brain activity when performing a task and then watching same task being performed by another individual

23 Cognition in Autistic Individuals (cont’d) Savant Skills: 10% of autistic kids seem to have a certain remarkable talent Ultimately, 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

24 Recent Mirror Neuron Research

25 Neurocomputing 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 humans Oberman, McCleery, Ramachandran, and Pineda prove that mirror neurons aren’t specifically for biological interaction

26 Stroke Studies and Emotion Emotion- “the experience and expression of feeling states” – Cummings and Bogousslavsky –Instrumental function deficits would produce impairment of emotional comprehension (both verbal and non verbal) –Lesions impairing fundamental functions would produce disorders of emotional experience –Lesions impairing executive/integrative function would produce impairment of emotional control and expression

27 Stroke Studies and Emotion (cont’d) Stroke should then produce neurological state that depends on the damaged structure/function Damage to: –Instrumental Function  Anosognosia –Fundamental Functions  Deficit/Producti ve Syndromes (ie mania, depression, psychosis) –Executive/integrative functions  Disroders of empathy

28 More Studies Congenital phantom limb cases and developmental theory for the basis of body image Execution/Observation Studies Mirror Neurons and therapeutic hypnosis Mirror neurons and neurorehabilitation Mu rhythms and neurocomputing

29 References Bodini B., Iacoboni M., Lenzi G.L. Acute stroke effects on emotions: an interpretation through the mirror system. Curr Opin Neurol Feb;17(1): 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 EEG evidence for mirror neuron activity during the observation of human androbot actions: Toward an analysis of the human qualities of interactive robots

30 References (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 Craighero2 Rizzolatti G., Craighero L. The Mirror Neuron System. Annu. Rev. Neurosci :169–92


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