The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition

Gregory Hickok. Norton, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-08961-5
Hickok, professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine, frames his book around a straightforward question: “How is it possible that a cell in the motor cortex of a monkey can provide the neural blueprint for human language, empathy, autism, and more?” His answer, presented with great clarity and detail, is equally straightforward: it can’t. Hickok balances his exploration of the hype surrounding the importance of mirror neurons with a careful analysis of the scientific literature, always attempting to ensure that conclusions are well supported by available data. In fact, he firmly believes that conclusions have far outpaced data. When he takes on the assertion that problems with mirror neurons are the cause of autism, he does not sugarcoat his finding that “the broken mirror hypothesis does not fare well in light of empirical facts.” He is equally confident that mirror neurons have not provided clues to the evolution of language, empathy, or theory of mind. Hickok’s skepticism toward the claims associated with mirror neurons began when he taught a course on the subject, and thanks to those origins his impressive handling of basic neuroscience makes a complex topic understandable to the general reader as he delves into cutting-edge science. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/05/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-393-24416-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-3926-1
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