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Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  736 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
What accounts for the remarkable ability to get inside another person’s head—to know what they’re thinking and feeling? “Mind reading” is the very heart of what it means to be human, creating a bridge between self and others that is fundamental to the development of culture and society. But until recently, scientists didn’t understand what in the brain makes it ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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David
Aug 14, 2010 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've run across so many non-fiction duds recently that I thought it would be helpful to make a short list of what I look for in a good non-fiction book. There are obvious additions or deletions, depending on whether one is talking about biography, current affairs, history or popular science. But for a book like this one, advertised as an accessible account of recent developments in an important branch of neuroscience, here's a short list of what I hope for:

# Context: give me a sense of where the
...more
Karen
Jan 31, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing
This book isn't an "easy read", but it rewards your careful attention with wonderful insights into neuroscience, psychology, and the day-to-day practice of science, including fascinating descriptions of ingenious experimental designs. Starting with the fantastic, serendipitous first discovery of "mirror neurons", Iacobini guides you along a path of years of theoretical speculation and experimentation, ending up at our current state of understanding of the role of mirror neurons in human ...more
Nicole
Jan 16, 2011 Nicole rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. The topic is one I wanted to learn more about, and it did give me some direction about where to look for that information (I just wish I still had access to those journal databases). Unfortunately, the book itself is mediocre at best: too dry to be a fluffy read and too vague to satisfy much as a scientific one, with a gratingly self-congratulatory tone. Iacoboni provided plenty of examples of why this subject is important and the experimental setups seemed reasonably ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
May 06, 2012 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This was such a good subject matter, mirror neurons are so interesting! Too bad the author was completely self obsessed, and in a very irritating way. I really couldn't get past the authors writing with this one, though I think some of the points he was making were highly fascinating, especially exploring mirroring behavior with autism and his ideas about how these neurons might affect free will.
Grace
Neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni shares his passion and research on mirror neurons with the general public in this engaging and accessible book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Iacoboni's writing style is fun and conversational; he doesn't talk down to the readers, which is key for a book that is essentially about neuroscience.

Neuroscience. Fancy that. It was no where in the title or mentioned in the blurb on the back of the book (except to say that the author was a neuroscientist). I foun
...more
Arminzerella
I started reading this about a month ago - the topic was really interesting/appealing to me. I read about 60 pages in one sitting and was a bit put off by the author's style. His attempts at camaraderie with the reader occasionally get in the way of his presentation. Not that I'm one of the "just the facts, ma'am" types (at least, not always). I trudged through another 40 pages tonight and decided that I was done with it. 100 pages. 1/3. It's not bad. I guess I just don't want to know *that* ...more
Joseph
Nov 19, 2011 Joseph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
ok, at first i was all about this book 'cause i thought it'd be clinical.

then i started reading it and i was like, "oh crap. it's not." but the neuroscience behind it was fascinating. i liked the explanation of "mirror neurons" but i think that the author did a poor job of making it palatable from time to time. other times it seemed that the author name dropped a bit. the real good stuff (about sociopaths) didn't happen until the end of the book. any practical application of the book's material
...more
Laura Dugan
Jul 27, 2009 Laura Dugan marked it as to-read
The idea of mirror neurons, cells in our brain that react to what we see others do, is fascinating. A review I read said this book is great for the layperson, but I find I get lost in the language... So far, Iacoboni seems to be doing a good job of explaining a complex neuroscientific principle, but I'll reserve full judgement until the end.
Vonia
The material covered in this title is extensive, but unmanageable only due to Marco Iacoboni's selection of examples, studies, comments, etc., the organization of said material, and his seemingly confused understanding of his audience. At times, he seems to feel that his audience are his colleagues, using vernacular that the average reader would have difficulty understanding. Yet, at other times, he writes in such detail, explaining simple ideas in such depth that the same reader might have ...more
Samuel Viana
Well, I can't rate this book yet because I just ordered it. The main reason for doing that is that the idea of "mirror neurons" started to fascinate me since I first read about the possibility that they could be the "organic basis" for the meme hypotesis as a replicator for culture proposed firstly by Richard Dawkins and developed later by Susan Blackmore.
By now only a theory not accepted for many people, the meme theory stays on "stand by" waiting for some experimental proof, but 'til now the m
...more
Matt
Dec 15, 2014 Matt rated it liked it
This is an interesting, accessible introduction to some very interesting recent research in neuroscience. The book proceeds in a clear, conversational tone and does a decent job of explaining its claims and conclusions, although at times it's far too casual for my taste. For those looking for more thorough scientific explanation, the notes section contains references to all of the scientific studies cited.

The first several chapters introduce mirror neurons and explain the research and conclusion
...more
Genndy
May 27, 2016 Genndy rated it it was ok
This is a book about neuroscientific researches on how we learn and develop as individuals because our brain reacts by imitating others and their actions. Thesis of this book is presented as something spectacular, something that will change the world, but it is really nothing special. Everyone i know is aware of the immitating ability of our brains, and importance that it has on our persona. Scientist just added some hypothetical "mirroring neurons" in that mix, and seasoned the whole shit up ...more
Skye
Jan 17, 2015 Skye rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had to read this over many sittings- a very 'sciencey' book. However, offers many interesting insights supported by case studies of monkey experiments, Superbowl etc.

What I've learnt: Mirror neurons are very important for humans. In autistic people they lack mirror neurons, and are therefore unable to react 'socially'. The mirror neuron is used to imitate behaviour, and is fired or activated when we watch something - ie ballet dancers's mirror neurons react most when they watch other ballet danc
...more
Emily
Aug 23, 2009 Emily rated it it was ok
I got far enough into MIRRORING PEOPLE that I might as well have finished it, and I tried to, but every time I opened it I found myself distracted by just *looking* for something else to do. I think "popular psychology" needs to offer some element of real life application for the general reader, and I reached a point in the book where I hadn't gotten one and didn't expect to.

What I learned about mirror neurons could potentially enrich my people watching hobby, and the next time I encounter an in
...more
E
Dec 21, 2009 E rated it really liked it
Overview of recent neuroscience discoveries regarding mirror neurons

In this fascinating book, Marco Iacoboni wordily explains his research into mirror neurons, generally in language that laypeople can understand. He convincingly issues a challenge to the individualistic foundations of Western thought. People imitate one another, Iacoboni argues, on a neurological level: People’s brains respond to the actions of others, almost as though they were doing those actions themselves. What’s more, diffe
...more
Emily
Aug 18, 2010 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is some very interesting stuff in this here book. I'm 100% interested in mirror neurons and this book has them aplenty. Marco Iacoboni can be an engaging storyteller and he's clearly got some good science at his back. What he hasn't yet worked out completely is how to make good science storytelling - there's so much information in this book, it's a wee bit overwhelming sometimes. This is pretty new science, though, relatively speaking and the implications of it are just starting to roll ...more
Conrad
Jan 30, 2010 Conrad rated it liked it
I am thoroughly enjoying reading this book. I will definitely update this review when finished.

I have now finished reading the book and find the work important and interesting, even though I believe the author draws some conclusions from the work that do not necessarily flow from the findings of his experiments. Nevertheless, there definitely seems to be a linkage between our ability to preceive and our ability to be a part of a human community which can be inferred. Perhaps that is why the hist
...more
Katie/Doing Dewey
Aug 09, 2012 Katie/Doing Dewey rated it it was amazing
Mirror neurons are the part of our brain which allow is to interpret other’s emotions, predict their intentions when they begin an action, and probably enable our ability to communicate using language. In Mirroring People, Marco Iacoboni explains clearly and intelligently the cutting edge research on this fascinating part of our brain – research with which he was intimately involved. The basic premise of this work is that we use the same neurons to preform an action and when we watch other ...more
Sarala
May 29, 2012 Sarala is currently reading it
Topic: discoveries about mirror neurons
This book is very soothing for scientists to read because it is so meticulous. The format is basically "Somebody noticed X happening with the monkeys in their lab. What if X meant Y? They thought of an experiment to test this. Here are the results of the experiment. This is what the results tell us about X and Y. This is what the results don't tell us. Here is another experiment that might answer the remaining questions." And so on and so forth.

It isn't dry
...more
Scott Burton
Jan 22, 2015 Scott Burton rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Mirror Neurons. Neurons that allow us to understand what we see in the world around us and then imitate or mirror those perceptions. Do they exists? That's what this book is about. Absolutely fascinating. Just how "free" are we? Has "free-will" been a complete illusion? It is humiliating how much control other's have over us--all of us. Connection. It is what being human is all about. We are made to be connected with each other in ways that are beyond our perceptions and constitute our ability ...more
Raven
Apr 06, 2016 Raven rated it liked it
Lots of interesting data presented herein, though I don't always agree with the author's interpretation of it. I did want more detailed information about several of the studies he covers quickly, but even the short versions still often raise intriguing questions about how it is we map and relate to others. I don't necessarily agree with his "activation is destiny" approach -- strong correlation is definitely worth noting in the studies, but I'm more on the side of "if we are informed about how ...more
Sieran
Jun 19, 2010 Sieran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-science
I LOVED THIS BOOK!! XD XD----Probably one of my FAVORITE POPULAR SCIENCE BOOKS so far!

It's a perfect balance of being engaging and being informative. ^^

Wow I ALWAYS wanted to learn so much more about those intriguing things called Mirror Neurons, and was ecstatic when I found this entire book dedicated to them!

Doubtless, I learned tons and tons of interesting info here:

**SPOILERS**

--------Mirror neurons are for a sense of self and other---I like this idea of interdependence...

That the "Self" (In
...more
Nick
Aug 24, 2013 Nick rated it it was amazing
Mirror neurons make it possible for us to empathize with other people -- and life forms. We see an emotion, and we fire off the same emotion in our brain. That's how we get other people's pain, joy, and so on. And why it's a really bad idea to watch slasher movies. This book explains the science behind our growing understanding of human connection. Iacoboni keeps it colloquial and readable, with an emphasis on the stories behind the research. He only mentions mu regression, for example, once! ...more
Roy
Oct 18, 2008 Roy rated it it was ok
Recommended to Roy by: Bookstore
I was very interested for the first half of the book, but small grievances added up till I finally stopped before the end. I don't think a scientist should be so biased while conducting his own experiment that he would say he "Got the results we were really hoping for" which kept with his theory. And though I can imagine the scarcity of suitable subjects for more invasive brain scanning, any research done on only two individuals cannot be extrapolated to be accurately representational of the ...more
Elalma
Jun 16, 2012 Elalma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interessante questo saggio sui neuroni specchio, che si attivano nella nostra mente quando osserviamo un'altra persona compiere un'azione. Hanno dimostrato che sono direttamente coinvolti all'empatia e funzionano con un meccanismo di imitazione. In pratica noi "imitiamo" gli altri e in questo modo li capiamo ed entriamo in contatto con loro. Sono ci� che connettono in maniera profonda il s� e l'altro. Interessanti anche le conseguenze di queste scoperte, fanno riflettere su tanti meccanismi ...more
Saturnina
Somehow not quite as fascinating as one would have thought. It was both on too general a level (in stuff that interested me) and at times going into too much technical detail (in stuff that did not interest me), not keeping a good balance. There were some interesting tidbits here and there nevertheless. Made me realise that some mirroring exercises I've done in impro and butoh classes may be done to purposefully activate mirror neurons.
Yarra
May 28, 2011 Yarra rated it liked it
Theory of mirror neurons may be intersting, but this book is full of dry scientific facts, which in a great part were not so convincing. I got a feeling that mirror neurons are presented as a kind of new scientific dogma supported by a group of scientist who are eagerly trying to find and prove it in everything and everywhere. I prefere to see a kind of scientific dobut and reference to wider social neuroscience, which cannot be found in this book.
Christopher Pelham
Oct 07, 2013 Christopher Pelham rated it really liked it
Fascinating and eye-opening all the way through, and completely, easily readable and understandable, which is not always the case with books about cutting edge science. Some reviews criticize the conversational tone but I think the author made a good choice to write this way as it probably opens the ideas up to many more people. The ideas in the book can conceivably make one a more effective teacher, parent and communicator. I highly recommend it.
Danielle
Nov 19, 2015 Danielle rated it really liked it
Interesting look at mirror neurons and how they shape almost every aspect of our lives from the moment we're born. The insights obtained through the study of mirror neurons will revolutionize psychology in the same way epigenetics is revolutionizing our understanding of everything that makes us human. Exciting all around!
Katherine
Mar 31, 2011 Katherine rated it really liked it
Fascinating scientific examination of brain functioning and social interaction. As an elementary educator, the studies and their implications for learning processes and issues are highly valuable. Clear, well-written with a personal touch by Italian scholar Iacoboni. Best read in the context of the now flourishing literature on the plasticity of the brain.
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