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Subst Use Misuse. 2010 Sep;45(11):1697-726. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2010.482421.

A self in the mirror: mirror neurons, self-referential processing, and substance use disorders.

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RTI International, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Mirror neurons in the Rhesus monkey and the mirror neuron system (MNS) in the human brain respond to actions that are executed by self and observed in another animal or person (i.e., imitated). The status of the MNS in humans is unclear, with some positive and some negative findings using electroencephalography and functional neuroimaging. We suggest that the fronto-parietal MNS may be disparate nodes or modules of a (poorly understood) self-referential processing system that is important in drug abuse and addiction. We then discuss some theories of the etiology of these disorders that emphasize the self. A modular approach to human brain organization and function (as opposed to strict localizationist or extreme globalist models) may resolve some issues surrounding the MNS and drug abuse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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