Mirror neurons through the lens of epigenetics

Pier F. Ferrari, Antonella Tramacere, Elizabeth A Simpson, Atsushi Iriki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The consensus view in mirror neuron research is that mirror neurons comprise a uniform, stable execution-observation matching system. In this opinion article, we argue that, in light of recent evidence, this is at best an incomplete and oversimplified view of mirror neurons, where activity is actually variable and more plastic than previously theorized. We propose an epigenetic account for understanding developmental changes in sensorimotor systems, including variations in mirror neuron activity. Although associative and genetic accounts fail to consider the complexity of genetic and nongenetic interactions, we propose a new evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) perspective, which predicts that environmental differences early in development should produce variations in mirror neuron response patterns, tuning them to the social environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-457
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Volume17
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

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Mirror Neurons
Epigenomics
Lenses
Developmental Biology
Social Environment
Plastics
Observation
Research

Keywords

  • Development
  • Epigenetics
  • Mirror neurons
  • Neonatal imitation
  • Plasticity
  • Sensorimotor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

Cite this

Mirror neurons through the lens of epigenetics. / Ferrari, Pier F.; Tramacere, Antonella; Simpson, Elizabeth A; Iriki, Atsushi.

In: Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 17, No. 9, 09.2013, p. 450-457.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ferrari, Pier F. ; Tramacere, Antonella ; Simpson, Elizabeth A ; Iriki, Atsushi. / Mirror neurons through the lens of epigenetics. In: Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2013 ; Vol. 17, No. 9. pp. 450-457.
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