Междисциплинарный семинар "МОЗГ"

The mirror mechanism:  a mechanism for understanding action and emotion of others

Giacomo Rizzolatti

Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, Italy
Постер семинара (pdf)

Mirror neurons are a distinct set of motor neurons that discharge both when the monkey executes a specific motor act and when it observes another individual doing a similar act. In the first part of my talk, I will review the basic functional properties of monkey mirror neurons located in the premotor cortex. I will first describe their motor properties. I will show then that mirror neurons code the goal of a motor act. Finally, I will review their visual properties showing that mirror neurons represent a mechanism that allows a direct understanding of what the agent is doing.

Mirror mechanism also exists in humans. I will present EEG, fMRI and TMS data proving it and will show that, although there are other mechanisms through which one can understand the behaviour of others, the mirror mechanism is the only one that allows understanding others from the inside providing the observer with a “first-person” person grasp of others’ motor goals, intentions and emotions.



Giacomo Rizzolatti
Professor of Human Physiology, University of Parma. Director of Parma Brain Center for Social and Motor Cognition, Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). Senior Scientist of the research team that discovered mirror neurons (1996). Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member of Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Foreign member of the Académie Francaise des Sciences, Foreign Member National Academy of Sciences, USA.

Current research interest:
1). Research carried out with a new type of multielectrode linear probes, that concerns the laminar organization of the premotor cortex of the monkey and the characterization of the types of neurons that this area houses.
2). Study of the organization of the premotor and parietal cortex in humans, and description of the functional properties of human mirror neurons, carried out using a new type of depth electrodes that allow the intracranial recording of single neurons from the parietal and frontal lobe.
3). Study of action perception in typically developing children and children with autism using behavioral tests and multichannel high density EEG.

1. Rizzolatti G., Craighero L.. The mirror-neuron system. // Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 2004. № 27. С. 169–192.
2. Rizzolatti G., Fabbri-Destro M., Cattaneo L.. Mirror neurons and their clinical relevance. // Nature Clinical Practice Neurology. 2009. № 5. С. 24–34.
3. Rizzolatti G., Fabbri-Destro M.. Mirror neurons - from discovery to autism. // Experimental Brain Research. 2010. № 200. С. 223–237.
4. Ferrari P.F., Rizzolatti G.. Mirror neuron research - the past and the future . // Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2014. № 369. С. 20130169.
5. Rizzolatti G., Fogassi L.. The mirror mechanism - recent findings and perspectives . // Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2014. № 369. С. 20130420.