In the premotor cortex of the monkey there are neurons (mirror neurons) that become active both when the monkey performs a given action and when it observes a similar action performed by other individuals. Some of the properties of mirror neurons are reported here. We propose that their activity constitutes a system for matching observation and execution of motor actions. We posit that this matching system might be relevant for action “understanding”. On the basis of some recent experimental evidence showing that, in humans, motor actions observation activates Broca's region, we propose that such a matching system might be at the basis of the evolution of speech. © 1997, Walter de Gruyter. All rights reserved.
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