, Volume 200, Issue 3-4, pp 223-237

Mirror neurons: from discovery to autism

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How the things started

In the winter of 1991 I (GR) sent to Nature a report on a surprising set of neurons that we (Giuseppe Di Pellegrino, Luciano Fadiga, Leonardo Fogassi, Vittorio Gallese) had found in the ventral premotor cortex of the monkey. The fundamental characteristic of these neurons was that they discharged both when the monkey performed a certain motor act (e.g., grasping an object) and when it observed another individual (monkey or human) performing that or a similar motor act (Di Pellegrino et al. 1992). These neurons are now known as mirror neurons (Fig. 1).Fig. 1

Example of an F5 mirror neuron selectively discharging during monkey grasping movements and during observation of a grasping movement done by the experimenter. a Lateral view of the brain with indicated the location of F5. b Grasping observation. c Grasping execution. a arcuate sulcus, c central sulcus, ip intraparietal sulcus (from di Pellegrino et al. 1992)

Nature rejected our paper for its “lack of general int