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Mirror Neurons: This is the Question

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Despite the impressive body of evidence supporting the existence of a mirror neuron (MN) system for action, the original claim regarding its crucial role in action understanding remains controversial. Emma Borg has recently launched a sharp attack on this claim, with the aim of demonstrating that neither the original version nor the subsequent revisions of the MN hypothesis tell us very much about how intentional attribution actually works. In this article I take up the challenge she issues in the title of her paper (If Mirror Neurons are the Answer, What was the Question?) and argue that what MNs offer is not as Borg claims 'an extremely limited' picture of action understanding but rather an enriched picture that brings to light aspects of social cognition hitherto ignored in the mind-reading literature, showing how intentional motor components of action can shape social cognition prior to and apart from any forms of deliberate mentalizing.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dipartimento di Filosofia, Università di Milano, via Festa del Perdono 7, 1-20122 Milano, Italy, Email:

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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