Language Within Our Grasp

Trends Neurosci. 1998 May;21(5):188-94. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(98)01260-0.


In monkeys, the rostral part of ventral premotor cortex (area F5) contains neurons that discharge, both when the monkey grasps or manipulates objects and when it observes the experimenter making similar actions. These neurons (mirror neurons) appear to represent a system that matches observed events to similar, internally generated actions, and in this way forms a link between the observer and the actor. Transcranial magnetic stimulation and positron emission tomography (PET) experiments suggest that a mirror system for gesture recognition also exists in humans and includes Broca's area. We propose here that such an observation/execution matching system provides a necessary bridge from'doing' to'communicating',as the link between actor and observer becomes a link between the sender and the receiver of each message.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Communication
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Gestures
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Speech / physiology