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How do we know what others are thinking and feeling? Why do we weep at movies? UCLA neuroscientist Iacoboni introduces readers to the world of mirror neurons and what they imply about human empathy, which, the author says, underlies morality. Mirror neurons allow us to interpret facial expressions of pain or joy and respond appropriately. "Thanks to these neurons," Jacoboni writes, "[w]e have empathy for... fictional characters-we know how they're feeling" because the feeling is reproduced in us. Mirror neurons also help us learn by imitating, from newborns who instinctively copy facial gestures to adults learning a new skill. The author cites studies suggesting that when mirror neurons don't work properly, as in autism, encouraging imitative behavior, or "social mirroring," can help. More ominously, Jacoboni sees mirror neurons as implicated in addiction and finds possible implications for how we react to consumer and even political ads. Iacoboni's expansive style and clear descriptions make for a solid introduction to cutting-edge neurobiology. (May 21)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Pioneer researcher Iacoboni (neurology, UCLA) balances technical detail with engaging historical perspective, humor, and idealism in this exploration of discoveries made through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In the past 15 years, fMRI has jolted psychology and philosophy as well as neuroscience, and this book explores implications for language, empathy, sense of self, autism, control and inhibition, violence and drug abuse, and advertising and politics. Why is conversation easier for most of us than speechmaking? Do we learn to imitate or imitate to learn? The new findings, Iacoboni reports, replace some older theories of mind and society with new emphasis on the self as a product of relationships. Iacoboni argues that dramatized violence fosters violence and that negative political ads work at the cost of disaffection from politics in general. The human brain-the most complicated thing in the known universe-becomes approachable for general readers thanks to ingenious research explained by a versatile, caring, optimistic teacher. This model of good and useful science is an essential purchase for cutting-edge psychology and philosophy collections.
—E. James Lieberman
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
1 Monkey See, Monkey Do
2 Simon Says
3 Grasping Language
4 See Me, Feel Me
5 Facing Yourself
6 Broken Mirrors
7 Super Mirrors and the Wired Brain
8 The Bad and the Ugly: Violence and Drug Abuse
9 Mirroring Wanting and Liking
11 Existential Neuroscience and Society