Hearing Sounds, Understanding Actions: Action Representation in Mirror Neurons

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Science  02 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5582, pp. 846-848
DOI: 10.1126/science.1070311

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Many object-related actions can be recognized by their sound. We found neurons in monkey premotor cortex that discharge when the animal performs a specific action and when it hears the related sound. Most of the neurons also discharge when the monkey observes the same action. These audiovisual mirror neurons code actions independently of whether these actions are performed, heard, or seen. This discovery in the monkey homolog of Broca's area might shed light on the origin of language: audiovisual mirror neurons code abstract contents—the meaning of actions—and have the auditory access typical of human language to these contents.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: giacomo.rizzolatti{at}

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