Some time ago, I presented a review of studies on ‘mirror neuron regions’ in the brain – motor regions that activate during passive perception of the actions of others. I also discussed how there may be a close relationship between mirror neuron activity and forward models of sensory consequences of actions – is one somehow the ‘reverse’ of the other? Tomorrow at Sensorimotor Journal Club, I will present a brief paper with Chris Miall’s thoughts on the subject:
Miall, R. C. (2003). Connecting mirror neurons and forward models. Neuroreport, 14(17), 2135-2137. (link to pdf of article)
Two recent developments in motor neuroscience are promising the extension of theoretical concepts from motor control towards cognitive processes, including human social interactions and understanding the intentions of others. The first of these is the discovery of what are now called mirror neurons, which code for both observed and executed actions. The second is the concept of internal models, and in particular recent proposals that forward and inverse models operate in paired modules. These two ideas will be briefly introduced, and a recent suggestion linking between the two processes of mirroring and modelling will be described which may underlie our abilities for imitating actions, for cooperation between two actors, and possibly for communication via gesture and language.