Concept Of Mirror Neurons

Submitted By mcardus29
Words: 2021
Pages: 9

As long as psychology has been a discipline in its own right there have been many new and exciting theories proposed, all claiming to hold more promise and insight than the last. Consequently, many of these theories are scrutinized by those of the potentially effected field, and rightly so. Therefore the concept of a paradigm shifting theory in the form of mirror neurons would surely be scrutinized more than most, as the potential of such a theory has implications across many a field in psychology. However the concept of mirror neurons may have the potential to increase any understanding of how human and animal brains may function.

Furthermore, in order to discuss possible implications of mirror neurons this essay has firstly presented a detailed description for the concept of mirror neurons, supporting any explanation with relevant research. In addition to any supporting research, research providing evidence to the contrary has been provided to enable a balanced analysis. Therefore, a balanced description of mirror neurons will facilitate any critical analysis for the possible psychological implications, thereby providing a balanced argument for the legitimacy of mirror neurons. Additionally, following any analysis of relevant research, a balanced and supported conclusion was produced in order to summarise any analysed research.

Accordingly, the concept of mirror neurons first came to be in the winter of 1991when a paper entitled ‘Understanding motor events: A neurophysiological study’ Di Pellegrino et al (1992), the paper was originally rejected by Nature for its lack of general interest. G. Rizzolatti, M.Fabbri-Destro (2010). However, it was this paper from the University of Parma published in 1992 by the Experimental brain journal, which first showed evidence of mirror neurons in animals. G. Rizzolatti, M.Fabbri-Destro (2010). Some scientists consider mirror neurons one of the most important recent discoveries in neuroscience. Among them V.S. Ramachandran, who believes they might be very important in imitation and language acquisition and stated "mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology". V.S Ramachandran. (2000).

Therefore, the concept of mirror neurons was seemingly disregarded at its beginning, it was not until V.S Ramachandran published his work on mirror neurons in Edge, no. 69, May 29, 2000, that a more wide spread interest was taken into the possible implications and functions of mirror neurons. It is regarding the functionality of mirror neurons that much research has been conducted to establish a working model of this concept. G. Rizzolatti, M.Fabbri-Destro (2010).

Consequently, the concept of a mirror neuron is relatively simple, mirror neurons are pre-motor neurons that fire when an animal performs object-directed actions such as grasping, tearing, manipulating, holding, however the same neurons also fire when the animal observes somebody else performing the same class of action. P. Molenberghs, et al (2010). In addition, original research was conducted using Macaque monkeys, Researchers placed electrodes in the ventral pre-motor cortex F5 region of the macaque monkey brain to study neurons specialized for the control of hand and mouth actions such as, taking hold of an object and manipulating it. Di Pellegrino et al (1992). Thereby recording responses of the neurons directly, it was this experiment which discovered that the neurons of the monkey did not discharge when food was viewed, but when the experimenter gasped it. This was the discovery of the mirror neuron system, all be it in monkeys. G. Rizzolatti, M.Fabbri-Destro (2010).

Additionally, it was only in April 2010, was evidence that mirror neurons existed in humans discovered. I. Fried, et al (2010). Until published in the April edition of the journal Current Biology, Dr. Itzhak Fried, UCLA professor of neurosurgery, psychiatry and bio-behavioural sciences, made a direct recording of mirror neurons in the human