Reflections on mirror neurons

There hasn’t been much research in neuroscience that’s directly relevant to intention perception, except for the finding of mirror neurons. These are very small bundles of neurons that are activated whenever performing certain actions or observing someone else performing the same actions. Because all models to date of intention processing make it appear to be a very computationally-intensive task, I’ve been skeptical that any small bundle of neurons could do it. And there’s reason to be skeptical, because any task that’s distributed across a region or regions of the brain would might show low activation, while any bottleneck in communicating the results of those computations might show as quite active.

A new review article in the journal Cell provides further evidence for skepticism.

I agree with Wired’s description: “These findings are significant because they show how mirror neurons are not merely activated by incoming sensory information, but also by formulations developed elsewhere in the brain about the meaning of what is being observed.”