Beyond Mirror Neurons: A Conversation with Greg Hickok

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Open Agenda Publishing, Oct 1, 2020 - Science

This book is based on an in-depth, filmed conversation between Howard Burton and Greg Hickok, Professor of Cognitive science at UC Irvine, where he directs the Center for Language Science and the Auditory and Language Neuroscience Lab. This thought-provoking conversation examines Greg Hickok’s neuroscience research related to speech and language which led him to eventually reject many aspects of the mirror neuron hypothesis, while giving his views on the mechanisms behind imitation and what mirror neurons really do.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Monkey See, Monkey Don’t, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

I. Talking Neuroscience - Speech, language and cognition

II. Enter Mirror Neurons - Grasping monkeys and old theories

III. One Size Fits All? - The kitchen sink of cognitive science

IV. Imitation - What it is and what it isn’t

V. Seeking a Controller - Structural investigations

VI. The Community Responds - Sceptics and believers

VII. A Different Perspective - Prediction and sensory states

VIII. Sociological Explorations - The merits of primary sources

IX. Neuroplasticity - Speculations on the underlying mechanisms

X. On the Front Burner - Lots to investigate

About Ideas Roadshow Conversations Series: 

This book is part of an expanding series of 100+ Ideas Roadshow conversations, each one presenting a wealth of candid insights from a leading expert in a relaxed and informal setting to give non-specialists a uniquely accessible window into frontline research and scholarship that wouldn't otherwise be encountered through standard lectures and textbooks. For other books in this series visit our website (


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A Note on the Text
The Conversation
Talking Neuroscience
Enter Mirror Neurons
One Size Fits All?
Seeking a Controller
The Community Responds
A Different Perspective
Sociological Explorations
On the Front Burner

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About the author (2020)

Howard Burton, the founder and creator of Ideas Roadshow and Ideas on Film, holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy. He was the Founding Executive Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) from 1999-2007. During his time at PI, he also developed an extensive outreach programme for teachers, students and the general public. His experiences at developing the research and outreach mandates of the institute were described in the book, First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute, featuring a foreword by Nobel Laureate Roger Penrose.

Ideas Roadshow is an award-winning initiative, recipient of the London Book Fair International Excellence Award in 2018. Howard has hosted and filmed in-depth conversations with more than 100 of the world’s brightest thinkers, including 3 Nobel Laureates, across the arts, sciences, sports and games.

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