Moreover there are other alternatives for which there is supporting data Jacobs

Moreover there are other alternatives for which there

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which would support this proposal. Moreover, there are other alternatives for which there is supporting data. Jacob’s and Csibra’s proposals would not be well supported, for example, if MN activation corresponded to activation that would be present if the observer were preparing a complementary response. As it happens, there is data that suggests that this may be the case. For example, Newman-Norlund et al. (2007) found that the “human mirror neuron system” (specifically: right inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral inferior parietal lobes) is more active when observers are simultaneously preparing a complementary action than when they are preparing an imitative action. They take this finding to suggest that the function of these neurons lies in “dynamically coupling action observation to action execution”. Note that, if this is the case, they would not be simulating the observed agent’s movement or intention in the sense of ST, but would nevertheless be important for social cognition. Would they still be simulating in any interesting sense? In fact, there is a related usage of the term simulation which would apply quite well here. The idea is that MNs could enable the interpreter to simulate the experience of performing some other action which is related to the observed action or some other emotional state which is related to the observed emotional state, for example an appropriate response. In this case, one would still be simulating an experience, and this simulation may still be used in understanding the other person’s intention or emotion, but clearly the kind of simulation at issue in this sort of case is further removed from the idea that we simulate the other person’s experience as they act or have an emotion. I will call this kind of simulation “extended simulation”. Note that these various alternatives are compatible. Some MNS circuits could be mirroring in the narrow sense while some broadly congruent MNS circuits could be serving predictive functions and some other ones response-selective functions. Indeed, recalling the Newman-Norlund (2007) results
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mentioned above, one may make the case that they in fact support the view that MNSs have multiple functions (.i.e. mirroring and response-selection). After all, one might argue, performing a complementary action involves mirroring plus an additional task , so it is no wonder that there is more activation in the complementary action scenario than in the scenario where there is only imitation, which involves minimal additional burdens beyond mirroring. The results, properly considered, suggest that MNSs have a response-selective function in addition to the function of mirroring the observed agent’s intention or emotion. In fact, there are other studies that fit well with this interpretation. For example, Iacoboni (2008, 127-128) reports a study of mothers’ responses to pictures of babies expressing emotions. Unsurprisingly, there were stronger responses in mirror neuron areas and also in emotional brain centers (insula and amygdala) when looking at pictures of their own babies as opposed to other babies. What is interesting is that there was also increased activation in the pre-SMA, which is
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