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Brain's mirror system loves the robot

Experiment may suggest why we feel sad for Wall-E

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4:35pm, April 4, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO — The next time you watch that guy on the dance floor do the robot to Mr. Roboto, his automatonic, jerky moves will speak to a surprising part of your brain: a region scientists thought was reserved for making sense of actions by others that you too are able to perform.

New experiments challenge a common view of this “mirror system” by showing that it’s not just a copycat, but is able to respond to a much wider range of actions than what an observer can perform himself.

This broadened capacity of the brain system may help explain how humans are able to quickly and effortlessly understand other people’s (and robot’s) actions, study coauthor Emily Cross of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands said April 2 in a presentation at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society.

“There are a lot of situations where you see actions that you can

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