Mirror Neuron Function: an Examination of Differences Relevant to Empathy and Autism
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This thesis presents a comprehensive review of past research to investigate whether evidence supports that the mirror neuron system of the brain is the physiological mechanism behind our ability to empathize with others. Regarding sex differences in empathy, females are regarded to be more empathetic than male counterparts. Research indicates females frequently score higher on empathy quotients, social sensitivity, and emotion recognition than males, and these behavioral differences correspond to changes in the mirror neuron system. Regarding autism and empathy, research indicates individuals diagnosed with autism have markedly diminished levels of empathy, and possible dysfunction of the mirror neuron system. Sex differences in mirror neuron function may further be related to the greater prevalence of these disorders in males than females.