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18 - The Mirror Neuron System and Social Cognition

from Part IV - Action

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2020

Jeffrey J. Lockman
Tulane University, Louisiana
Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda
New York University
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The ability to understand others’ actions and intentions is at the core of human social competence. Action understanding, what it means and how it develops, has received much attention in developmental research because it is viewed as one of the most fundamental abilities in early social-cognitive development. For example, there is a growing body of evidence linking early action understanding with later theory of mind (Brooks & Meltzoff, 2015; Charman et al., 2000; Wellman, Phillips, Dunphy-Lelii, & LaLonde, 2004), and to the development of communicative skills (e.g., Brooks & Meltzoff, 2008). Increasing evidence suggests that the mirror neuron system (MNS) is a key neural correlate of action understanding. In this chapter, we discuss the role the MNS is thought to play in the development of social cognitive skills in infancy. We also discuss the current challenges of measuring the MNS that are unique to work with infants, what such studies have found in both typical and atypical populations, and how this work can impact our understanding of development.

The Cambridge Handbook of Infant Development
Brain, Behavior, and Cultural Context
, pp. 495 - 519
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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