Apraxia, metaphor and mirror neurons

Summary Ideomotor apraxia is a cognitive disorder in which the patient loses the ability to accurately perform learned, skilled actions. This is despite normal limb power and coordination. It has long been known that left supramarginal gyrus lesions cause bilateral upper limb apraxia and it was proposed that this area stored a visualkinaesthetic image of the skilled action, which was translated elsewhere in the brain into the pre-requisite movement formula. We hypothesise that, rather than these two functions occurring separately, both are complementary functions of chains of ‘‘mirror neurons’’ within the left inferior parietal lobe. We go on to propose that this neural mechanism in the supramarginal gyrus and its projection zones, which originally evolved to allow the creation of a direct map between vision and movement, was subsequently exapted to allow other sorts of cross-domain mapping and in particular those sorts of abstract re-conceptualisation, such as metaphor, that make mankind unique.
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