Jeni Stiso

Towards Understanding the Hierarchical Organization of Mirror Neurons in humans: An Electrocorticography Study

One of the most intriguing, yet controversial recent findings in neuroscience is the discovery of the mirror neuron system (MNS). These visuo-motor neurons discharge both when a monkey does a particular goal-directed action and when it observes another individual doing a similar action. The result of this mechanism is thought to be the capacity to recognize that an individual is performing an action, to differentiate this action from others analogous to it, and to use this information in order to act appropriately. This mechanism has been proposed as the basis for social cognition. Additionally, deficits in social understanding, such as those seen in autism spectrum disorder have been linked to deficits in the MNS. In this project I will utilize the temporal and spatial advantages of Electrocorticography (ECoG) in neurosurgical patients, to assess, for the first time, whether the MNS can be differentiated into subpopulations, which are tuned to different stages of the goal directed action that one views.

Message to Sponsor

I am ecstatic to receive the honor of being a SURF fellow for 2015. This program and the generosity of the Pergo Foundation gives me a unique opportunity to be completely immersed in research that I am passionate about, while helping to prepare me for future neuroscience research conducted at a higher level. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity, and look forward to the new intellectual challenges I will face this summer.
  • Major: Molecular and Cell Biology: Neuroscience, Cognitive Science
  • Sponsor: Pergo
  • Mentor: Robert Knight, Psychology