Volume 14, Number 24
April 15, 2008

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This Week

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The Magic of Mirror Neurons Analyzed

The newly established Center for Mind, Language and Culture (CMLC), in collaboration with the Department of Psychology, has organized an interdisciplinary colloquium called "Taking the Measure of Mirror Neurons," for Friday, April 18. It will run from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the C-block auditorium of the FEASS building.

International participants will be: Pierre Jacob (Philosophy, Institut Jean Nicod, Paris, France); Thomas Metzinger (Philosophy, Johannes Gutenberg-Universitšt Mainz, Germany); Guenther Knoblich (Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK); Natalie Sebanz (Psychology, University of Birmingham, UK). Bilkent University will be represented by Radu Bogdan (Philosophy and Psychology; Director of CMLC); and Mark Ashton Smith (Psychology).

Neural mirroring is perhaps the most exciting neuropsychological discovery of recent decades. It has been found that within the brains of all primates, including humans, there are specialized neurons (cells that receive, transfer, and process information) that "fire" when actions of others are observed AND when one initiates the same type of action. This surprising coincidence is widely believed to underpin the mental abilities for empathy, imitation, learning, joint action, reading mental states, particularly intentions of others, and acquiring language and culture. It is also thought to be at the root of cooperation, solidarity, group coherence, emotional contagion (the influencing of thoughts), mob behavior, and more. The colloquium is intended to "take the measure" of this extraordinary phenomenon and assess its promise and possible limitations.

Everyone is invited, as the event is open to the public. The program can be accessed on the CMLC web page at www.mind.bilkent.edu.tr

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