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Abstract

Single-cell recording in macaque monkeys has uncovered mirror neurons, which respond both when a monkey observes a transitive action (an action involving an actor and an object), carries out that transitive action, or hears a sound associated with that action. Mirror neurons have been proposed to provide the neural basis for a variety of language functions, including the understanding of expressions referring to actions and the coordination of mental representations in dialogue. While mirror neurons may become active during language production and comprehension, the available evidence suggests that mirror neurons do not, by themselves, provide a sufficient basis for action understanding or alignment of mental states. Instead, mirror neurons may be a component of a larger associative network that connects production and comprehension systems.