Mirror Neuron System and Social Cognitive Development

  • Minoru Asada


This chapter, first, reviews the properties and potentials of the mirror neuron system (MNS) for understanding other’s actions and imitation. Next, the developmental process from the emergence of the MNS to social interaction is investigated from a viewpoint of constructive approach. Lastly, in the concluding remarks, future issues are discussed.


Mirror neuron system (MNS) Cognitive developmental robotics (CDR) Empathy Hebbian learning Self-organizing mapping (SOM) Synchronization Ecological self Interpersonal self Social self Imitation 


  1. Arbib, M.A.: The mirror system hypothesis on the linkage of action and languages. In: Arbib, M.A. (ed.) Action to Language Via the Mirror Neuron System, pp. 3–47. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New York (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asada, M.: Towards artificial empathy. Int. J. Social Robot. 7(1), 19–33 (2015)Google Scholar
  3. Asada, M., Uchibe, E., Hosoda, K.: Cooperative behavior acquisition for mobile robots in dynamically changing real worlds via vision-based reinforcement learning and development. Artif. Intell. 110, 275–292 (1999)CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  4. Asada, M., Hosoda, K., Kuniyoshi, Y., Ishiguro, H., Inui, T., Yoshikawa, Y., Ogino, M., Yoshida, C.: Cognitive developmental robotics: a survey. IEEE Trans. Auton. Ment. Dev. 1(1), 12–34 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Butterworth, G.E., Jarrett, N.L.M.: What minds have in common is space: spatial mechanisms serving joint visual attention in infancy. Br. J. Dev. Psychol. 9, 55–72 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Emery, N.J., Lorincz, E.N., Perrett, D.I., Oram, M.W.: Gaze following and joint attention in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). J. Comp. Psychol. 111, 286–293 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fuke, S., Ogino, M., Asada, M.: Body image constructed from motor and tactile images with visual information. Int. J. Humanoid Rob. 4, 347–364 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fukushima, H., Hiraki, K.: Whose loss is it? Human electrophysiological correlates of nonself reward processing. Soc. Neurosci. 4(3), 261–275 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gallese, V., Goldman, A.: Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mindreading. Trends Cogn. Sci. 2, 493–501 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gallese, V., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., Rizzolatti, G.: Action recognition in the premotor cortex. Brain 119(2), 593–609 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hardcastle, V.G.: In: Kessel, F.S., Cole, P.M., Johnson, D.L. (eds.) A Self Divided: A Review of Self and Consciousness: Multiple Perspectives. Psyche 2(1) (1995)Google Scholar
  12. Heiser, M., Iacoboni, M., Maeda, F., Marcus, J., Mazziotta, J.C.: The essential role of Broca’s area in imitation. Eur. J. Neurosci. 17, 1123–1128 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hickok, G.: Eight problems for the mirror neuron theory of action understanding in monkeys and humans. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 21, 1229–1243 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Homae, F., Watanabe, H., Nakano, T., Taga, G.: Prosodic processing in the developing brain. Neurosci. Res. 59, 29–39 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Inui, T.: Embodied cognition and autism spectrum disorder (in Japanese). Jpn. J. Occup. Ther. 47(9), 984–987 (2013)Google Scholar
  16. Ishida, H., Nakajima, K., Inase, M., Murata, A.: Shared mapping of own and others’ bodies in visuotactile bimodal area of monkey parietal cortex. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 22(1), 83–96 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ishihara, H., Yoshikawa, Y., Miura, K., Asada, M.: How caregiver’s anticipation shapes infant’s vowel through mutual imitation. IEEE Trans. Auton. Ment. Dev. 1(4), 217–225 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kuhl, P.K.: Human adults and human infants show a “perceptual magnet effect” for the prototypes of speech categories, monkeys do not. Percept. Psychophys. 50, 93–107 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kuhl, P., Andruski, J., Chistovich, I., Chistovich, L., Kozhevnikova, E., Ryskina, V., Stolyarova, E., Sundberg, U., Lacerda, F.: Cross-language analysis of phonetic units in language addressed to infants. Science 277, 684–686 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kuniyoshi, Y:. Body shapes brain -emergence and development of behavior and mind from embodied interaction dynamics. In: The 10th International Conference on the Simulation of Adaptive Behavior, 2008 (SAB08) Osaka, July 2008, page (an invited talk) (2008)Google Scholar
  21. Kuniyoshi, Y., Sangawa, S.: Early motor development from partially ordered neural-body dynamics: experiments with a cortico-spinal-musculo-skeletal model. Biol. Cybern. 95, 589–605 (2006)CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  22. Meltzoff, A.N.: The ‘like me’ framework for recognizing and becoming an intentional agent. Acta Psychol. (Amst) 124, 26–43 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Meltzoff, A.N., Moore, M.K.: Imitation of facial and manual gestures by human neonates. Science 198, 74–78 (1977)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Miura, K., Yoshikawa, Y., Asada, M.: Unconscious anchoring in maternal imitation that helps finding the correspondence of caregiver’s vowel categories. Adv. Robot. 21, 1583–1600 (2007)Google Scholar
  25. Miura, K., Yoshikawa, Y., Asada, M.: Vowel acquisition based on an automirroring bias with a less imitative caregiver. Adv. Robot. 26, 23–44 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Miyazaki, M., Hiraki, K.: Video self-recognition in 2-year-olds. In: Proceeding of the XVth Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies. Kyoto, Japan (2006)Google Scholar
  27. Mori, H., Kuniyoshi, Y.: A human fetus development simulation: self-organization of behaviors through tactile sensation. In: IEEE 9th International Conference on Development and Learning (ICDL 2010), pp. 82–97. Ann Arbor, Michigan (2010)Google Scholar
  28. Murata, A., Ishida, H.: Representation of bodily self in the multimodal parietopremotor network, Chapter 6. In: Funahashi, S. (ed.) Representation and Brain. Springer, Tokyo/New York (2007)Google Scholar
  29. Myowa-Yamakoshi, M., Takeshita, H.: Do human fetuses anticipate self-directed actions? A study by four-dimensional (4d) ultrasonography. Infancy 10(3), 289–301 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nagai, Y., Rohlfing, K.J.: Computational analysis of motionese toward scaffolding robot action learning. IEEE Trans. Auton. Ment. Dev. 1(1), 44–54 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nagai, Y., Hosoda, K., Morita, A., Asada, M.: A constructive model for the development of joint attention. Connect. Sci. 15(4), 211–229 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nagai, Y., Asada, M., Hosoda, K.: Learning for joint attention helped by functional development. Adv. Robot. 20(10), 1165–1181 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nagai, Y., Kawai, Y., Asada, M.: Emergence of mirror neuron system: immature vision leads to self-other correspondence. In: IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning, and Epigenetic Robotics (ICDL-EpiRob 2011), pages CD–ROM, Frankfurt, Germany (2011)Google Scholar
  34. Nakano, T., Watanabe, H., Homae, F., Taga, G.: Prefrontal cortical involvement in young infants’ analysis of novelty. Cereb. Cortex 19, 455–463 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Neisser, U. (ed.): The Perceived Self: Ecological and Interpersonal Sources of Self Knowledge. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New York (1993)Google Scholar
  36. Nishitani, N., Hari, R.: Temporal dynamics of cortical representation for action. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 97(0027-8424 SB – IM), 913–918 (2000)Google Scholar
  37. Ogawa, K., Inui, T.: Lateralization of the posterior parietal cortex for internal monitoring of self-versus externally generated movements. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 19, 1827–1835 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Oudeyer, P.-Y.: Phonemic coding might result from sensory-motor coupling dynamics. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Simulation of Adaptive Behavior (SAB02), pp. 406–416, Edinburgh, UK (2002)Google Scholar
  39. Papousek, H., Papousek, M.: Intuitive parenting: a dialectic counterpart to the infant’s precocity in integrative capacities. In: Handbook of Infant Development, pp. 669–720, Wiley, New York (1987)Google Scholar
  40. Pellegrino, G., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., Gallese, V., Rizzolatti, G.: Understanding motor events: a neurophysiological study. Exp. Brain Res. 91(1), 176–180 (1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ray, E., Heyes, C.: Imitation in infancy: the wealth of the stimulus. Dev. Sci. 14, 92–105 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rizzolatti, G., Arbib, M.A.: Language within our grasp. Trends Neurosci. 21, 188–194 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rizzolatti, G., Sinigaglia, C., Anderson, F.: trans. Mirrors in the Brain How Our Minds Share Actions and Emotions. Oxford University Press. Oxford, New York (2008)Google Scholar
  44. Russell, J.A.: A circumplex model of affect. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 39, 1161–1178 (1980)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sanefuji, W., Ohgami, H.: Responses to “like-me” characteristics in toddlers with/without autism: self, like-self, and others. In: Abstract Volume of XVIth International Conference on Infant Studies, pp. 245–246. Vancouver, Canada (2009)Google Scholar
  46. Shimada, S.: Brain mechanism that discriminates self and others (in Japanese). In: Hiraki, K., Hasegawa, T. (eds.) Social Brains: Brain that Cognizes Self and Others, pp. 59–78. University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo, Japan (2009)Google Scholar
  47. Takahashi, Y., Tamura, Y., Asada, M., Negrello, M.: Emulation and behavior understanding through shared values. Robot. Auton. Syst. 58(7), 855–865 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Umilta, M.A., Kohler, E., Gallese, V., Fogassi, L., Fadiga, L., Keysers, C., Rizzolatti, G.: I know what you are doing: a neurophysiological study. Neuron 31(1), 155–165 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Watanabe, A., Ogino, M., Asada, M.: Mapping facial expression to internal states based on intuitive parenting. J. Rob. Mechatron. 19(3), 315–323 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Watanabe, H., Homae, F., Nakano, T., Taga, G.: Functional activation in diverse regions of the developing brain of human infants. Neuroimage 43, 346–357 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yamaguchi, Y.: The brain computation based on synchronization of nonlinear oscillations: on theta rhythms in rat hippocampus and human scalp EEG. In: Marinaro, M., Scarpetta, S., Yamaguchi, Y. (eds.) Dynamic Brain – From Neural Spikes to Behaviors. LNCS, vol. 5286, pp. 1–12. Springer, Heidelberg (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yoshikawa, Y., Asada, M., Hosoda, K., Koga, J.: A constructivist approach to infants’ vowel acquisition through mother-infant interaction. Connect. Sci. 15(4), 245–258 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EngineeringOsaka UniversityToyonakaJapan

Personalised recommendations