5 October 2009

An upcoming University of Queensland public lecture will make you realise how much we mirror each other's actions as a means to communicate.

Professor Giacomo Rizzolatti, from the University of Parma, will present the inaugural Merson Lecture "The mirror mechanism: a neural mechanism to understand others" on November 5, at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), St Lucia.

Director of the QBI Professor Perry Bartlett said that Professor Rizzolatti was "responsible for one of the greatest discoveries in neuroscience in the past 20 years, and we are extremely privileged in having him present the inaugural Merson lecture".

Professor Rizzolatti has been recording the activity of nerve cells linked to hand actions for the past 30 years. In 1996, his work led him to discover the physiological phenomenon of "mirror neurons" - neurons that are activated when we wish to copy or mirror someone else's actions.

Such neurons have been considered as very important by scientists' world wide, as they may be the basis through which we are able to understand the intentions of others, acquire language and share feelings.

In his presentation, Professor Rizzolatti will outline the properties of the mirror mechanism and its implications for cognition. He will conclude by discussing the relationship between the impairment of mirror mechanism and autism.

The lecture will be held at the Queensland Brain Institute's Auditorium on level 7 of Building 79, Upland Road situated at the University of Queensland's St Lucia campus on November 5 from 5-6pm.

A cocktail party will take place after the lecture for which bookings are essential. To book please call the Queensland Brain Institute on 07 3346 6300 or email events@qbi.uq.edu.au.

David Merson

Mr David Merson was the founder of Mincom Ltd, and has been the director of a number of Australian companies, institutes and charitable bodies. His achievements are numerous and include an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Queensland, as well as a Centenary Medal from the Australian Government.

The University of Queensland established the Merson Lecture in honour of Mr Merson, whose sponsorship is indicative of a growing community interest in neuroscience and mental disease.

Media Contact: Alison van Niekerk, phone +61 7 3346 6403, email a.vannierkerk@uq.edu.au or Robert Mitchell, phone +61 7 3365 8598, email r.mitchell1@uq.edu.au