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Mirror Neurons

The phrase, “Monkey See, Monkey Do!” takes on connotations ofrealitywith
the discovery (or at least,theconjecture)ofmirrorneurons. Mirror
neurons werefirst identified in the frontal lobes(pre-motorcortexarea
or Broca’s area) in monkeys.Broca’sareaisthecenterinthebrain
associated with the expressive and syntactic aspects of language inhumans.
Giaccamo Rizzollati and co-workers made the discoveryofmirrorneurons.
Mirrorneuronsareidentifiedaspotentiallyimportantfroman
evolutionary standpoint.Scientists have identified them as the key tothe
evolution of our cognitiveandlanguageabilities. Theproblemasit
exists is that the human (or primate) brain attained its size withallthe
attendant genetics more than 250,000 years ago. However,ourabilityto
create language, music and establish evolved cultures havecomeafterour
brains were fully developed.This means that the above-mentionedabilities
were present in the human brain, but were latent. Thiswouldgoagainst
Darwin’s theory of evolution, which suggests that only expressed genes(and
not latent ones) evolve. V.S.Ramachandransuggeststhataspecific
facility was expressed in a specific directionbyaccident. Thenmirror
neurons took over and that particular facility was”nurtured,”itevolved
and developed, and became commonplace (Ramachandran, 2003).
Mirror neurons were discovered when these neurons were showntofire
not only when monkeys performedaspecificactivity(grasping,tugging,
pulling and holding) but also fired when themonkey,notperformingthat
activity, watched another monkey performed it.Thefunctioningofmirror
neurons indicates that it could explainwhythehumancognitiveability
works.The most important function of mirror neurons isthereforeinthe

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