Advertisement

Cognitive Processing

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 159–166 | Cite as

Predictive coding: an account of the mirror neuron system

  • James M. Kilner
  • Karl J. Friston
  • Chris D. Frith
Review

Abstract

Is it possible to understand the intentions of other people by simply observing their actions? Many believe that this ability is made possible by the brain’s mirror neuron system through its direct link between action and observation. However, precisely how intentions can be inferred through action observation has provoked much debate. Here we suggest that the function of the mirror system can be understood within a predictive coding framework that appeals to the statistical approach known as empirical Bayes. Within this scheme the most likely cause of an observed action can be inferred by minimizing the prediction error at all levels of the cortical hierarchy that are engaged during action observation. This account identifies a precise role for the mirror system in our ability to infer intentions from actions and provides the outline of the underlying computational mechanisms.

Keywords

Mirror neurons Action observation Bayesian inference Predictive coding 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The Wellcome Trust funded this work.

References

  1. Allison T, Puce A, McCarthy G (2000) Social perception from visual cues: role of the STS region. Trends Cogn Sci 4:267–278CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Arbib MA, Mundhenk TN (2005) Schizophrenia and the mirror-neuron system: an essay. Neuropsychologia 43:268–280CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Chater N, Manning CD (2006) Probabilistic models of language processing and acquisition. Trends Cogn Sci 10(7):335–344CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Dapretto M, Davies MS, Pfeifer JH, Scott AA, Sigman M, Bookheimer SY, Iacoboni M (2006) Understanding emotions in others: mirror-neuron dysfunction in children with autism spectrum disorders. Nat Neurosci 9:28–30CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Di Pellegrino G, Fadiga L, Fogassi L, Gallese V, Rizzolatti G (1992) Understanding motor events: a neurophysiological study. Exp Brain Res 91:176–180PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Flanagan JR, Vetter P, Johansson RS, Wolpert DM (2003) Prediction precedes control in motor learning. Curr Biol 13(2):146–150CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Fogassi L, Ferrari PF, Gesierich B, Rozzi S, Chersi F, Rizzolatti G (2005) Parietal lobe: from action organization to intention understanding. Science 308:662–667CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Friston KJ (2002) Funtional integration and inference in the brain. Prog Neurobiol 68:113–143CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Friston KJ (2003) Learning and inference in the brain. Neural Netw 16:1325–1352CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Friston K (2005) A theory of cortical responses. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 360:815–836CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Frith CD, Frith U (1999) Interacting minds—a biological basis. Science 286:1692–1695CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Gallese V (2006) Embodied simulation: from mirror neuron systems to interpersonal relations. In: Bock G, Goode J (eds) Empathy and fairness. Novartis Foundation, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  13. Gallese V, Goldman A (1998) Mirror-neurons and the simulation theory of mind reading. Trends Cogn Sci 2:493–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gallese V, Fadiga L, Fogassi L, Rizzolatti G (1996) Action recognition in the premotor cortex. Brain 119:593–609CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Gallese V, Fogassi L, Fadiga L, Rizzolatti G (2002) Action representation and the inferior parietal lobule. In: Prinz W, Hommel B (eds) Attention and performance XIX. Common mechanisms in perception and action. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 247–266Google Scholar
  16. Gallese V, Keysers C, Rizzolatti G (2004) A unifying view of the basis of social cognition. Trends Cogn Sci 8:396–403CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Grossman E, Donnelly M, Price R, Pickens D, Morgan V, Neighbor G, Blake R (2000) Brain areas involved in perception of biological motion. J Cogn Neurosci 12:711–720CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Hamilton AF, Grafton ST (2006) Goal representation in human anterior intraparietal sulcus. J Neurosci 26:1133–1137CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Hamilton AF, Grafton ST (2007) The motor hierarchy: from kinematics to goals and intentions. In: Rosetti Y, Kawato M, Haggard P (eds) Attention and performance xxii (in press)Google Scholar
  20. Harries MH, Perrett DI (1991) Visual processing of faces in temporal cortex: physiological evidence for a modular organization and possible anatomical correlates. J Cogn Neurosci 3:9–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Iacoboni M (2005) Neural mechanisms of imitation. Curr Opin Neurobiol 15:632–637CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Iacoboni M, Koski LM, Brass M, Bekkering H, Woods RP, Dubeau MC, Mazziotta JC, Rizzolatti G (2001) Reafferent copies of imitated actions in the right superior temporal cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98(24):13995–13999CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Iacoboni M, Molnar-Szakacs I, Gallese V, Buccino G, Mazziotta JC, Rizzolatti G (2005) Grasping the intentions of others with one’s own mirror neuron system. PLoS Biol 3(3):e79CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Jacob P, Jeannerod M (2005) The motor theory of social cognition: a critique. Trends Cogn Sci 9:21–25CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. James W (1890) Principles of psychology. Holt, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Jeannerod M (1994) The representing brain–neural correlates of motor intention and imagery. Behav Br Sci 17:187–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Keysers C, Perrett DI (2004) Demystifying social cognition: a Hebbian perspective. Trends Cogn Sci 8:501–507CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Luppino G, Murata A, Govoni P, Matelli M (1999) Largely segregated parietofrontal connections linking rostral intraparietal cortex (areas AIP and VIP) and the ventral premotor cortex (areas F5 and F4). Exp Brain Res 128:181–187CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Miall RC (2003) Connecting mirror neurons and forward models. Neuroreport 14(17):2135–2137CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Nishitani N, Hari R (2000) Temporal dynamics of cortical representation for action. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97(2):913–918CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Nishitani N, Hari R (2002) Viewing lip forms: cortical dynamics. Neuron 36(6):1211–1220CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Oberman LM, Hubbard EM, McCleery JP, Altschuler EL, Ramachandran VS, Pineda JA (2005) EEG evidence for mirror-neuron dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res 24:190–198CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Oram MW, Perrett DI (1994) Responses of anterior superior temporal polysensory (STPa) neurons to biological motion stimuli. J Cogn Neurosci 6:99–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Prinz W (1997) Perception and action planning. Eur J Cogn Psych 9:129–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rizzolatti G, Craighero L (2004) The mirror-neuron system. Annu Rev Neurosci 27:169–192CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Rizzolatti G, Fogassi L, Gallese V (2001) Neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the understanding and imitation of action. Nat Rev Neurosci 2:661–670CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Rushworth MFS, Behrens TEJ, Johansen-Berg H (2006) Connection patterns distinguish three regions of human parietal cortex. Cereb Cortex 16:1418–1430CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Saxe R (2005) Against simulation: the argument from error. Trends Cogn Sci 9:174–179CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Schütz-Bosbach and Wolfgang Prinz (2007) Prospective coding in event representation (this issue)Google Scholar
  40. Seltzer B, Pandya DN (1994) Parietal, temporal, and occipital projections to cortex of the superior temporal sulcus in the rhesus-monkey: a retrograde tracer study. J Comp Neurol 343:445–463CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Umilta MA, Kohler E, Gallesse V, Fogassi L, Fadiga L, Keysers C, Rizzolatti G (2001) I know what you are doing. A neurophsyiological study. Neuron 31:155–165CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Wolpert DM, Doya K, Kawato M (2003) A unifying computational framework for motor control and social interaction. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 29:358:593–02Google Scholar
  43. Wolpert DM, Ghahramani Z, Jordan MI (1995) An internal model for sensoriymotor integration. Science 269:1880–1882CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Wolpert DM, Miall RC (1996) Forward models for physiological motor control. Neural Netw 9:1265–1279CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • James M. Kilner
    • 1
  • Karl J. Friston
    • 1
  • Chris D. Frith
    • 1
  1. 1.The Wellcome Trust Centre for NeuroimagingInstitute of NeurologyLondonUK

Personalised recommendations