Mirror neurons have been an exciting but much-debated topic in social cognitive neuroscience. In the field of autism, it has been argued that a 'broken' mirror neuron system could underlie the social and communication problems seen in autistic people. But how do we measure mirror neuron system activity? Are our measures robust? And does the evidence add up to support the broken mirror view?
We tested neurophysiological measures that have been argued to tap into the activity of the human mirror neuron system. Mu suppression has been argued to reflect sensorimotor activity, including activity when viewing the actions of others. Using a registered report, we tested the notion that mu suppression was confounded by broad attentional factors, a key issue for research using mu suppression to suggest a 'broken' mirror system in autism. In addition, our reviews highlight that evidence does not add up to support the traditional 'broken mirror' view of autism.
- Continuing to look in the mirror: A review of neuroscientific evidence for the broken mirror hypothesis, EP-M model and STORM model of autism spectrum conditions
- Mu suppression – A good measure of the human mirror neuron system?
- The interpretation of mu suppression as an index of mirror neuron activity: past, present and future
Dr Hobson's research considers language and communication problems and imitation abilities and neural systems that underlie imitation.