Nature Reviews Neuroscience 7, 942-951 (December 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrn2024

The mirror neuron system and the consequences of its dysfunction

Marco Iacoboni1 & Mirella Dapretto1  About the authors


The discovery of premotor and parietal cells known as mirror neurons in the macaque brain that fire not only when the animal is in action, but also when it observes others carrying out the same actions provides a plausible neurophysiological mechanism for a variety of important social behaviours, from imitation to empathy. Recent data also show that dysfunction of the mirror neuron system in humans might be a core deficit in autism, a socially isolating condition. Here, we review the neurophysiology of the mirror neuron system and its role in social cognition and discuss the clinical implications of mirror neuron dysfunction.

Author affiliations

  1. Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Sciences, Neuropsychiatric Institute, Brain Research Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, 660 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.

Published online 8 November 2006


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