I am grateful to an anonymous referee and to Ruth Campbell for forcing me to clarify the structure of my arguments at several points. I have had useful exchanges with Michael Arbib, Ned Block, Luciano Fadiga, Richard Frackowiak, Vittorio Gallese, György Gergely, Mel Goodale, Robert Gordon, Samuel Guttenplan, Paul Horwich, Marc Jeannerod, Hugo Mercier, Ruth Millikan, Olivier Morin, Lionel Naccache, Paul Noordhof, Giacomo Rizzolatti, Tania Singer, Barry C. Smith, Dan Sperber and Frédérique de Vignemont. A few years ago, Greg Currie heard me deliver an early version of this paper: I am grateful to him for encouraging me to write it up. I am especially grateful to Gergely Csibra for his written comments and to Alvin Goldman for his kind hospitality both intellectual and physical: whether one agrees with him or not, his recent book, Simulating Minds, is a major contribution to the whole field. I have also benefited from responses of audiences at the Department of Psychiatry at Cornell University Medical School in New York, at the Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science, at CUNY, at the university of Western Ontario and at the university of Lausanne. But most of all, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Deirdre Wilson for her invaluable help and support.
What Do Mirror Neurons Contribute to Human Social Cognition?
Article first published online: 12 MAR 2008
© 2008 The Author
Mind & Language
Volume 23, Issue 2, pages 190–223, April 2008
How to Cite
JACOB, P. (2008), What Do Mirror Neurons Contribute to Human Social Cognition?. Mind & Language, 23: 190–223. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0017.2007.00337.x
- Issue published online: 12 MAR 2008
- Article first published online: 12 MAR 2008
Abstract: According to an influential view, one function of mirror neurons (MNs), first discovered in the brain of monkeys, is to underlie third-person mindreading. This view relies on two assumptions: the activity of MNs in an observer’s brain matches (simulates or resonates with) that of MNs in an agent’s brain and this resonance process retrodictively generates a representation of the agent’s intention from a perception of her movement. In this paper, I criticize both assumptions and I argue instead that the activity of MNs in an observer’s brain is enhanced by a prior representation of the agent’s intention and that their task is to predictively compute the best motor command suitable to satisfy the agent’s intention.