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The extended features of mirror neurons and the voluntary control of vocalization in the pathway to language

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 March 2014

Leonardo Fogassi
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (RTM), Via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma. E-mail: leonardo.fogassi@unipr.it
Gino Coudé
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Neuroscienze di Parma, V. Volturno 39 andNational Institutes of Health, Poolesville, MD
Pier Francesco Ferrari
Affiliation:
Dipartimento di Neuroscienze di Parma and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, V. Volturno 39 andNational Institutes of Health, Poolesville, MD

Abstract

In this book it has been proposed that the mirror system can be a scaffold for building a language-ready brain, because of its property of matching action observation with action execution, a feature that can correspond to the “parity” requirement for communication. In this commentary we will first emphasize two properties of mirror neurons and motor cortex that may have contributed to language: the generalization of the property of understanding action goals and the capacity to decode the goal of action sequences. Then we will propose, based on recent behavioural and neurophysiological data in monkeys, that the vocalization in non-human primates could have reached a partial voluntary control, thus contributing to the emergence of a communicative system relying on the coordination of gestures and utterances.

Type
Comparing the macaque and human brain
Copyright
Copyright © UK Cognitive Linguistics Association 2013

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