I’ve been thinking about mirror neurons, lately, since a talk by a woman whose work presumes their existence and importance. Mirror neurons are the Higgs Boson of neuroscience, a phenomenon that is given greater significance by people outside the field than by people inside.
Via @scicurious, this article at Psych Today reminds us to rein in some of the hype:
A non-player tennis fan who’s never held a racket doesn’t sit baffled as Roger Federer swings his way to another victory. They understand fully what his aims are, even though they can’t simulate his actions with their own racket-swinging motor cells. Similarly, we understand flying, slithering, coiling and any number of other creaturely movements, even if we don’t have the necessary motor cells to simulate them.