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Mirror Neurons – the Most Hyped Concept in Neuroscience?

Neuroscience and Conflict Resolution Blog by Stephanie West Allen

Which is more hyped? Mirror neurons or oxytocin? I guess it depends on the day you’re asking, or the blogs you are reading, or the conferences you are attending. There’s is no doubt that the silliness surrounding both is a wonder to watch. Some people have a need to reduce their worlds to simple notions; mirror neurons and oxytocin are two concepts they’ve grabbed onto with avid vigor and ignorant excitement.

Click to read some past posts about the oxytocin hype. Today I bring to your attention to a post on mirror neuron brainlessness, published on a Psychology Today blog by Dr. Christian Jarrett. From “Mirror neurons – the most hyped concept in neuroscience?“:

Motor cells that respond to the sight of other people moving are intriguing, there’s no doubt. It’s likely they play a role in important social cognitions. But to claim that they make us empathic, and to raise them up as neuroscience’s holy grail, as the ultimate brain-based root of humanity, is ridiculous. The evidence I’ve mentioned is admittedly somewhat biased, designed to counteract the hype and show just how much debate and doubt persists. In fact, the very existence of mirror neurons in the human brain is still disputed by some. That’s where we’re at with the study of these cells. We’re still trying to find out whether they exist in humans, where they are, and what exactly it is they do. Mirror neurons are fascinating but they aren’t the answer to what makes us human.

Click to read the rest. The post’s a good antidote to the presentations one hears and reads by those overly taken with mirror neurons.

                        author

Stephanie West Allen

Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive… MORE >

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