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Re: [xmca] imagining doing an activity

Apologies, I only sent half of Manfred's comments on parents mirroring infant smiling:

Another social mechanism of emotional development can be observed especially in cultures with extensive face-to-face interactions between caregivers and their infants, such as Western cultures and the Minangkabau culture in West Sumatra. This is called affect mirroring (Gergely & Watson, 1999). When infants show emotional expressions, caregivers often intuitively use their own expression to mirror the inferred infant expression in a succinct and conventionalized manner, for example, by mirroring a baby’s smile and praising him for it or by playfully mirroring a baby’s painful grimace and sounds of distress before accompanying the removal of the distress with soothing sounds. Affect mirroring works like a natural “biofeedback” training that enables the infant to also experience contingencies between her own feelings and the corresponding expression mirrored in the face and body of her caregiver. It supports the acquisition of the conventionalized expression signs within the given culture and prepares the conscious perception of feelings (see Fontagy et al., 2002).

Culture-specific conditions can have an impact on the development of emotions because of the incomplete state of neonate emotional expression and cognitive abilities, as just described. Two pathways are possible: Culture-specific educational practices determine the extent to which children are exposed to situational causes of single emotions, such as, elicitors that trigger distress or joy. Second, culture-specific patterns regulate how caregivers interpret children’s expressions and how they react to them.

As cross-cultural studies have shown, parents from different sociocultural contexts value different socialization goals and strategies. These strategies, in turn, depend on culture-specific ethnotheories of parenting that specify what is considered to be appropriate contact with one’s infants (Keller et al., 2006; Keller, Völker, & Yovsi, 2005) and influence the interactional parenting practices that parents apply (see Demuth, this issue; Kärtner et al., this issue; Keller & Otto, 2009).

The differences in these practices can be observed in a cross-cultural comparison of the development of social smiling in the young infants of middle-class mothers in the German city of Münster and rural Nso mothers from Kumbo in the northwest of Cameroon (Wörmann et al., 2012). During free interactions, the urban German mothers particularly preferred dialogic communication with their 6- and then 12-week-old infants. This was based on positive emotional expressions with smiles and a friendly intonation. Rural Nso mothers, in contrast, preferred a prompt satisfaction of their infant’s bodily needs but considered face-to-face interactions to be unimportant. In line with these different ethnotheories, German mothers and their 12-week-old infants not only smiled at each other more frequently but also imitated the smiling of the other more frequently than Nso mothers and their infants, who only occasionally displayed social smiling.

The study also shows how dialogic, face-to-face interactions between infants and parents are not practiced to an equal extent across all cultures, indicating that conclusions based on such behavior cannot be generalized without further empirical research (see White, this issue). Several cross-cultural studies have demonstrated how different educational practices lead to different frequencies and features of expression (Cole, Bruschi, & Tamang, 2002; Friedlmeier & Trommsdorff, 1999; Lewis, Takai-Kawakami, Kawakami, & Sullivan, 2010).

mike cole wrote:
Seems relevant to me, Eric. I am not sure what the reference to emotional
neurons in the article is,presumably something sub cortical, but the
mirroring effect seems to be important to Manfred's account.


On Monday, March 18, 2013, wrote:

David Byrne (former front man for The Talking Heads)  wrote a great
article for Smithsonian magazine speaking to this very similar affect that
imagining playing music is very similar in brain activity to actually
playing music.

Have a read if interested:


very interesting.  Does not speak much to mirror neurons but certainly
speaks to how neuroscientists study brain functions and their subsequent
understanding about how people process information.

-----xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu wrote: -----
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
From: carolmacdon@gmail.com
Sent by: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
Date: 03/18/2013 01:21AM
Subject: Re: [xmca] Polls are closed: Manfred Holodynsk's article is choice

Why is that so perplexing David. For those suffering from Chronic Fatigue
imaging exercise has pretty much the same effect as doing it.  Sorry for
the example off topic.
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!

-----Original Message-----
From: David H Kirshner <dkirsh@lsu.edu>
Sender: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2013 06:13:17
To: ablunden@mira.net<ablunden@mira.net>; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Reply-To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Subject: RE: [xmca] Polls are closed: Manfred Holodynsk's article is choice

Wikipedia's entry opens with "A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both
when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed
by another."

Help me, here. I thought neural activity was associated with things
meaningful at the level of patterns of neural firings, not at the level of
the individual neuron.


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 12:22 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Polls are closed: Manfred Holodynsk's article is choice

Who's against being "interested in" the brain, Vera?
And what is "materialist" about explaining human behaviour by postulating
unobservable and uncontrollable mechanisms in a brain you or I will never
see? That sounds almost like the definition of idealism to me (As in Thesis
on Feuerbach #1). Take a phenomenon, and posit a metaphyical cause
especially for that phenomenon, problem solved.
"Mirror neurons" are a simplistic reification of the idea of biological
determination of social behaviour, obviating the need for any investigation
of activity. Children imitate, therefore there are "imitiative neurons" in
the head. I believe in God therefore I have God-neuron? If this is
materialism I prefer idealism.


Vera John-Steiner wrote:
I fully agree, Martin. I have considered our lack of interest in the
brain a strange stance considering the crucial role Luria has played
in C-H theory, beside the clear implication of a materialist stance.
How can there be a study of speech or thinking without a slowly growing
but exciting exploration of the brain?

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of Martin Packer
Sent: Sunday, March 17, 2013 6:13 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Polls are closed: Manfred Holodynsk's article is

Seems to me that we say that a word is a process. Equally, a thought
is a process. Producing either without having a brain would be a
struggle. Trying to figure out the role of the brain in each is

On Mar 17, 2013, at 6:56 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

As I understand it, "mirror neurons" are not supposed to be sensory

neurons or motor neurons, but in the frontal lobe. But in any case,
reacting to light or pressure. etc., constitutes a connection to a
neuron in someone else's head only in the most trivial sense. But my
intention was actually to head off a diversion but I am in danger of
creating one. I certainly have experienced a baby smiling back at me,
but I think ascribing this behaviour to "mirror neurons" is pure
metaphysics, about as explanatory as ascribing it to angels, only except
that "mirror neurons" belongs to today's religion.
I think infant smiling is most fruitfully discussed as behaviour
rather than brain activity.

On the other matter, far from occupying different realms, words *are*
things. But thoughts are not. But I no longer try to persuade people
of this. A lost cause. In the world of "mirror neurons" thoughts are
also configurations of neurons. :(


Greg Thompson wrote:

Andy, I think that there is an incredibly important assumption here
in your comment that has been side-stepped by other responses thus

You wrote:

"leaving aside surgical intervention, neurons only react to other

by direct electrochemical interaction."

If this were true, we would never be able to make any contact with

world "outside" of our brains - neurons would just be talking to
neurons and they would have no connection with the "world out there"
(or any world for that matter!), and in which case, we would not be
able to see, hear, touch, smell, feel, balance, etc.

But we can do all these things. Thus, there must be a process of

from one to the other - from light striking the retina to neurons
firing in the retina and on down the brain (but where is "seeing"?).
So "mirror neurons" aren't necessarily impossible (although it may
still be incomplete or wrong for other reasons).

[and I hope you'll notice a parallel here between the concern
articulated in this email and my previous response to the division
that you introduced in an XMCA post some time ago between the dollar
in your pocket and the dollar in your head. As if the WORD and the
THING are in fundamentally different realms - never to meet one

But I think that there is an intuition in your comment about neurons

nicely "lights up" one of the central problematics of Western science:
how do you get from physical stuff to mental stuff?

I suspect that this question-as-problem arises from a confused

understanding of what we mean by both "physical" and "mental". On the
one hand, we neglect the semiotic, information-based properties of the
physical (and Gregory Bateson is a great place to look for a better
understanding here). And similarly, on the other hand, we neglect the
physical aspects of what we understand to be "mental" (and here,
perhaps Charles Peirce is a good place to look here).

And a bigger problem within which both of these troubles sit is our

tendency of our understanding towards entification rather than seeking
the relational and processual nature of both the so-called "physical"
and the so-called "mental." And that's a whole other problem altogether.

But I've said a lot (too much?) already.

On Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 6:15 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net

<mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

   Robert, if I were to suggest that "mirror neurons" are a
   metaphyical belief which have no more basis in existence than
   phlogiston or ether, would that actually change anything? Have you
   ever been misled by the mistaken observation of "mirror neuron"
   activity, or has observation of a mirror neuron ever explained
   some otherwise inexplicable event? So far as I know, leaving aside
   surgical intervention, neurons only react to other neurons by
   direct electrochemical interaction.

   Robert Lake wrote:

       Hi everyone,
       I am a relative newcomer to CHAT research, so this (mostly
       rhetorical) question is probably
       old hat to many of you. It concerns Holodynski's article as it
       may or may not relate to the notion of mirror neurons as
       described by Ramachandran.


       If I understand this correctly, in Holodynski's view, a
       caregiver mirrors back to the child, his or her own emotions
       through gesture and facial expressions. What if the child's
       emotions/expressions fall into the range of autism spectrum
       disorders? Can ZPD's be created that in turn help create and
       develop "empathy" neurons in us regardless of our age level?
       Are there some cultures that are more emotionally and perhaps
       empathically evolved?

       Thank-you MCA team  and Professor Holodynski for this article.
       I think it represents the a key component for the future of
       cultural/historical research.

       Fascinated and curious,
       Robert Lake

       On Sat, Mar 16, 2013 at 10:59 PM, Andy Blunden
       <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>
       <mailto:ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:

           The article for discussion is now available at:


           mike cole wrote:

               We will make available Manfred Holodynski's article -
               Theory of Emotions: A Cultural Historical Approach to
               Development of Emotions - available
               for discussion as soon as possible. Then let the
       discussion begin!

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       <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu <mailto:xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>>



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           Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/

           Book: http://www.brill.nl/concepts

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       --         *Robert Lake  Ed.D.
       *Associate Professor
       Social Foundations of Education
       Dept. of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading
       Georgia Southern University
       P. O. Box 8144
       Phone: (912) 478-0355 <tel:%28912%29%20478-0355>
       Fax: (912) 478-5382 <tel:%28912%29%20478-5382>
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        /Democracy must be born anew in every generation, and
       education is its midwife./
       /-/John Dewey.



   *Andy Blunden*
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883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602

*Andy Blunden*
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