Mirror neurons and language acquisition
Professor Christian Keysers discusses the hypothesis that babbling in infants may actually be the way a child trains its mirror neuron system.
There has been a lot of thought about the role that mirror neurons could play in language, and there are in particular two ways in which the two things have been linked. One is if you imagine a young infant trying to learn to speak, say the parent is trying to talk him into saying â€œPapaâ€ before â€œMamaâ€, and therefore keeps telling â€œPapaâ€ to the baby. What the baby needs to be able to do is match the sound with what it takes to produce a similar sound. Now we have quite a bit of evidence that while you hear as an adult the sounds of someone else, you actually activate the motor program it takes to reproduce that sound, making this mirror [neuron] system very useful in learning to reproduce words we hear in other people. Now in infants, we believe that babbling may actually be the way the kid finds out and trains itâ€™s own mirror [neuron] system. We also know that in songbirds, we find things that are very similar to mirror neurons, and these songbirds need them to be able to learn to sing a song by listening to their parents. Now at this level we have good evidence for the link between the mirror [neuron] system and language. There is another domain in which the two have tried to be linked, and there the evidence is a little bit less strong, and itâ€™s the idea that we understand language because we map it on our own body. So if I would ask you whether running was an action, part of why you would know it was an action is because you would actually activate your own motor program for running if you hear the word running. And this kind of embodiment of the words you hear seems to be working well in utilizing things that are similar to mirror neurons for action words like running, but itâ€™s less clear whether they are important for other aspects; say if you think about words like an idea, or words like generosity, which are not directly actions but concepts.
mirror neurons, mirror system, language acquisition, babbling, christian, keysers
An overview of language-related content on Genes to Cognition Online.
Professor Christian Keysers discusses the proposed association between autism and mirror neurons, a very hot topic in autism research.
Professor Christian Keysers discusses the hypothesis linking autism, mirror neurons, and synaptic proteins.
Professor Christian Keysers discusses experiments associating mirror neurons with experiencing and witnessing emotion.
Professor Christian Keysers explains that mirror neurons can be found in many regions of the brain.
Professor Christian Keysers explains that mirror neurons in the premotor cortex respond when we perform an action and also when we see someone else perform that action. This is similar to empathy.
Professor Christian Keysers discusses evidence that mirror neuron systems are necessary for processing emotions.
Professor Christian Keysers explains that because mirror neurons activate when we witness other people's actions and emotions, they may play an important role in feelings of empathy.
Professor Christian Keysers explains the mirror neuron may be explained by the "what fires together, wires together" principle.
An overview of autism-related content on Genes to Cognition Online.