In this article for Scientific American, I dig into the theory that certain groups of neurons specifically work to interpret the goals of others’ movements. Could these neurons be involved in autism? Could they be crucial for empathy? Some famous researchers say yes… while others say it’s impossible.
The discoverers of mirror neurons put forth what they call the “action understanding” hypothesis – that mirror neurons are the neural basis for our ability to understand others’ actions. On this hypothesis rests a kingdom: If it’s true, Iacoboni may be right that we can treat autism and speech disorders by repairing the human mirror neuron system. But this kingdom’s borders have fallen under relentless attack since its very earliest days.
Read more of my article at Scientific American.