Mirror Neurons

I’m probably revealing my science-ignorance, but a paper was published in the Journal of Neuroscience this month about an experiment that may have found evidence of something called mirror neurons in the human brain.  I don’t have access to the Journal of Neuroscience paper, but I read about it in ScienceNews here.  The article by Tina Hesman Saey begins:

“Macaque monkeys have specialized brain cells — called mirror neurons — that activate when a monkey performs an action involving an object, such as picking up a grape, or when watching someone else do the same task. The discovery of these neurons in 1996 led to speculation that they could be involved in everything from simulating others’ actions to language development to autism. There was only one problem: no one had definite proof that such cells exist in humans.”

The revealing my science-ignorance part of my post is this:  if more definitive evidence is found, could mirror neurons explain the effects found in the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory ESP experiments?

The picture below is of an early ESP machine from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory.


3 thoughts on “Mirror Neurons

  1. I don’t believe that “mirror neurons” would be involved in ESP, if indeed ESP exists. They appear to have evolved to respond to physical cues given by other individuals of the same species in order to infer their intentions and attitudes. Indeed, if ESP existed, mirror neurons would not be necessary, because the intentions and attitudes of others could be apprehended directly.

    The enormous evolutionary advantage that would be gained by any species that developed its ESP capabilities argues, in my view, against the existence of such a capability. If ESP existed, wouldn’t many species be experts at it? They could find receptive females without false attempts at mating, determine whether other males were truly challenging for dominance without actually fighting, etc. And that’s in addition to the value of transmission of information that ESP is supposed to make possible.

  2. Oh yes, I’m well aware of PEAR, but thank you for the link and for bringing them up. I interviewed Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne for my book, and of course I was very impressed. It was also discouraging, because I felt if Jahn’s experiments could be dismissed, acceptance seemed impossible.

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