Convergence: Connecting Levels of Analysis in Psychological Science
 In the past, our field harbored distinct, and often competing, schools of thought that tackled different problems and produced findings that often appeared to diverge. Today, investigators attack shared problems at complementary levels of analysis and produce results that converge. Studies of people in a social world; mental systems of cognition and emotion; and biological mechanisms of the genome and the nervous system interconnect and yield an integrated psychological science. The APS 23rd Annual Convention displays, and celebrates, these advances in our field.

Keynote Address/Opening Ceremony

The Mirror Mechanism: New Findings

Thursday, May 26, 2011, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
International Ballroom Center

Giacomo Rizzolatti

Giacomo Rizzolatti
Università degli Studi di Parma, Italy

Exciting discoveries in neuroscience over the last several years have revolved around a mechanism that unifies action perception and action execution. The essence of this mechanism — the mirror mechanism — is that each time individuals observe an action done by others, a set of neurons that code that action are activated in the motor system. Because the observers are aware of the outcome of their motor acts, they also understand what the others are doing without the necessity of an intermediate cognitive mediation. In his talk, Rizzolatti will first present some new discoveries on the mirror mechanism in monkeys. He will then present evidence that humans possess the mirror mechanism and that the anatomical location of parieto-frontal mirror networks of monkeys and humans closely coincide. Then, he will discuss the limits of the mirror mechanism in understanding other people. He will stress that the parieto-frontal mirror mechanism is, however, the only mechanism that allows a person to understand others’ actions from the inside, giving the observing individual a first-person grasp of other individuals’ motor goals and intentions.

Giacomo Rizzolatti in the news: Technorati (Oct 9, 2010), Zeit Online (Dec 18, 2010), and Il Sole (Jan 2, 2011).

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