"Mirroring People: The New Concept of How We Connect with Others", by Marco Iacoboni, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0-374-21017-5, HC 272/308. Notes 23 pgs., Index 13 pgs., & several illus., 8 ½" x 5 ¾".
A short book, written by neurologist Iacoboni "originally from Italy", for lay people. He does TMS studies at the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA. We learn Giacomo Rizzolatti and Vittorio Gallese through serendipity discovered the mirror neurons (area F5) while studying Macaca nemestina in Parma, Italy some 20 years ago while doing neurophysiologic experimentation using brain electrodes. We learn the author has been lecturing on mirror neurons for a decade and that his wife Mirella Dapretto is a developmental psychologist expert in autism and pediatric brain imaging using fMRI.
The subject of mirror neurons, their function, location & importance engendering empathy, morality, social cognition and self-awareness is explained - and NY Times reports: "The discovery is shaking up numerous scientific disciplines, shifting the understanding of culture, empathy, philosophy,..." Thusly, ,a collection of material is provided: function of mirror cells, imitation as distinguishing human trait of self versus other, empathy & morality, coding intentions, gestures (iconic, beating, & emblem), palm mental reflex, McGurk effect, chameleon effect, Moebius syndrome, maternal empathy, mirror sign, mirror recognition test, embarrassment syndrome, autism & Asperger's. The latter two may be regarded as instances of "broken mirrors" that can lead to social deficits.
All in all, this research is obviously important and one prays that the focus of such expensive & highly technical work aught to prioritize the study of autism & Asperger's syndrome maximally, dwelling somewhat less on studies on effective of advertisements (ads) & college student's thoughts about political candidates (neuromarketing & neuropolitics) - although that may be where the big money lies!
Unfortunately, the author is not a fluid writer - his prose is jerky, wordy, self grandiosing, and unrestrained with poorly defined time lines - unfortunate since the subject matter is so fertile and promises so much more.