Poiesis and Praxis 5 (3-4):233-247 (2008)

Mirror neurons are a particular class of visumotorical neurons, originally discovered in area F5 of the monkey premotorical cortex. They discharge both (1) when the animal performs a specific action and (2) when it observes a similar action. Actually, it is often assumed that this unique functioning could explain different abilities ranging from imitation behaviour to faculty of speech. In this article, we discuss the question what is meant by the expression: The neuron x mirrors the action y by perception z . The problem resulted from the fact, that neurons cannot mirror anything—except in the light of a metaphorical description. How can this metaphorical description be dissolved for a distinct and explicit scientific terminology? The basic steps of our argumentation are as follows. (1) The expression to mirror can be defined in mutual relation between different types of actions in respect of at least two participants: the proponent A, who conducts a special action x (e.g. grapping a peanut (A(x)) and the opponent B who observes these actions y (B(y)) and vice versa. (2) In order to detect different tokens as a type of action and to guarantee the changes of the participants there must be constituted a speech act in a dialogue, in which types of actions are defined by the invariance of special equivalence. (3) The change of the participants represents and defines the metaphorical expression to mirror in the light of a non-metaphorical and reproducible schema. (4) Then, the invariance of the type of action can be identified in different speech acts. Three of them (called narratives) were defined paradigmatically: (4.1) the ethological-narrative; (4.2) the neurophysiological-narrative; (4.3) the language-narrative. (5) These narratives are the modelling and explicit formulations of the primarily metaphorical expression: The neuron x mirrors the action y by perception z
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DOI 10.1007/s10202-008-0050-6
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