July 11, 2006

Mirror Neurons & Video Games

Been reading about mirror neurons a lot lately; first in the April issue of Scientific American Mind (abstract only) and now in the New York Times (from June 4, subscription may be required).

SciAm suggests that mirror neurons are how we learn from the world — learning language, for instance, but also maybe why we yawn when someone else does (are you yawning? I am ...). My buddy Ramachandran is quoted as saying that mirror neurons may be as important to psychology as DNA is to biology.

The New York Times says that some golfers and Nascar drivers make use of mirror neurons by playing video games to improve their skills. It helps them visualize situations they will encounter in their sport. The Penn State football coach is using Madden's NFL game to help train his new players.

Both articles are referring to research conducted by Marco Iacoboni, a mirror-neuron researcher at UCLA's Brain Mapping Center. You can see some of what he's written "recently" from Google Scholar.

Finally, the radio show / podcast Future Tense recently discussed research showing that "that surgeons who warm up by playing video games perform better at simulated surgery." They didn't mention mirror neurons in the podcast, but I bet there is a connection ...

Scientific American Mind
April 2006
A Revealing Reflection
By David Dobbs
Mirror neurons are providing stunning insights into everything from how we learn to walk to how we empathize with others

New York Times
June 4, 2006
Sports / Play Magazine: The Home-Screen Advantage
Hooray for mirror neurons! It turns out that video games can be good training tools. Just ask a Nascar driver or a Penn State QB

Future Tense
May 30, 2006
Jon Gordon
Surgeons who warm up playing video games make fewer mistakes

No comments: