The mirror system and its role in social cognition

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2008 Apr;18(2):179-84. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2008.08.001. Epub 2008 Aug 20.


Experiments in monkeys have shown that coding the goal of the motor acts is a fundamental property of the cortical motor system. In area F5, goal-coding motor neurons are also activated by observing motor acts done by others (the 'classical' mirror mechanism); in area F2 and area F1, some motor neurons are activated by the mere observation of goal-directed movements of a cursor displayed on a computer screen (a 'mirror-like' mechanism). Experiments in humans and monkeys have shown that the mirror mechanism enables the observer to understand the intention behind an observed motor act, in addition to the goal of it. Growing evidence shows that a deficit in the mirror mechanism underlies some aspects of autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Social Perception