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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael Joel Schrift, D.O., M.A.(University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine)
Description: The idea that perception and action share the same neural substrates in the brain and the discovery of the mechanism for this, mirror neurons, has not only revolutionized cognitive neuroscience, it also has had ramifications for diverse domains of knowledge. This excellent book, written and edited by the discoverers of mirror neurons, informs readers of this exciting and paradigm-shifting discovery.
Purpose: The purpose is to give "the definitive account of one of the major scientific discoveries of the past 50 years." Indeed, the editors have provided an easy to understand explanation of this important discovery.
Audience: The targeted audience ranges from laymen interested in developments in neuroscience to researchers in the field.
Features: The motor system is discussed first, with a review of the importance of the parietofrontal circuits. This is followed by a chapter on the acting brain which details how perception and actions are represented and integrated. How we come to understand our body and the space around us is explained in chapter 3. Chapter 4 describes canonical neurons and how, together with mirror neurons, we understand others' action. The human mirror neuron system is described next, followed by how imitation and language are linked. The concluding chapter explains how shared emotion, such as empathy, is instantiated in the brain.
Assessment: This is a wonderful new book on the mirror neuron system written by the discoverers themselves. This new model has important explanatory power in cognitive neuroscience and beyond. A must read for anyone wanting to keep up with this revolution.