Mirror Neuron Systems: The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition (Contemporary Neuroscience)

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9781617379314: Mirror Neuron Systems: The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition (Contemporary Neuroscience)

The aim of this book is to bring together social scientists, cognitive scientists, psychologists, neuroscientists, neuropsychologists and others to promote a dialogue about the variety of processes involved in social cognition, as well as the relevance of mirroring neural systems to those processes. Social cognition is a broad discipline that encompasses many issues not yet adequately addressed by neurobiologists. Yet, it is a strong belief that framing these issues in terms of the neural basis of social cognition, especially within an evolutionary perspective, can be a very fruitful strategy. This book includes some of the leading thinkers in the nascent field of mirroring processes and reflects the authors’ attempts to till common ground from a variety of perspectives. The book raises contrary views and addresses some of the most vexing yet core questions in the field – providing the basis for extended discussion among interested readers and laying down guidelines for future research. It has been argued that interaction with members of one’s own social group enhances cognitive development in primates and especially humans (Barrett & Henzi, 2005). Byrne and Whiten (1988), Donald (1991), and others have speculated that abilities such as cooperation, deception, and imitation led to increasingly complex social interactions among primates resulting in a tremendous expansion of the cerebral cortex. The evolutionary significance of an imitation capability in primates is matched by its ontological consequences.

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The discovery of mirror neurons and of a mirror neuron system in the human brain raises the interesting possibility that "mirroring" may constitute novel instances of mental simulation. It also provides the basis for unique processes such as "mindreading," the ability to make inferences about the actions of others. That an elementary process in motor cognition may be foundational to mindreading goes a long way in providing a rational basis for the study of social cognition. Social cognition is a broad discipline that encompasses many issues not yet adequately addressed by neurobiologists. In Mirror Neuron Systems: The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition, leading thinkers in this nascent field craft chapters aimed at sparking a dialogue regarding the relevance of mirroring neural systems in cognition.

Thought-provoking and cutting-edge, Mirror Neuron Systems: The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition provides the basis for extended discussion among interested readers and lays down the guidelines for future research in this fascinating and expanding field. It addresses issues common to different perspectives, raises contrary views, and creates the basis for an extended dialogue and discussion.

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"Mirror Neuron Systems: The Role of Mirroring Processes in Social Cognition can be viewed as evolving from this area of specialization, being an anthology of explanations for the relation between mirror neuron locations and functions and some main concepts from social cognition. ... This book will serve scholars researching the topic of mirror neurons as new findings emerge and the theoretical understandings mature. The book also serves as a useful addition to graduate courses that cover social cognitive neuroscience." (Francis C. Staskon, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 54 (35), 2009)

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