The study of neurology attempts to explain the most fascinating aspects unique to humanity and theorizes an explanation for the causes of mental dysfunctions. Vilanyur S. Ramachandran, nicknamed “The Marco Polo of Neurology” (UCSD), has discovered many interesting facts about the human brain, and his studies with those who have mental disorders have transformed neuroscience. One of his greatest research topics, mirror neurons, poses as an explanation of “phenomena ranging from the development of language and the transmission of culture to empathy, autism, and even the uniqueness of the human species” (Melnick). Through his studies of mirror neurons and their possible impact specifically relating to autism spectrum disorder, more great discoveries and treatments may occur in the future.
Born in 1951, Ramachandran developed an early interest in science. In the introduction of his novel The Tell-Tale Brain, he stated, “Although my current interest is neurology, my love affair with science dates back to my boyhood in Chennai, India.” (Ramachandran 5). He developed a passion for multiple sciences including chemistry, biology, botany, zoology; he also loved history and anthropology. His mother also encouraged his interest in science; they were a well-traveled family, so she brought him zoological specimens from all around the world, and his father brought him a Carl Zeiss research microscope when he was in his early teens. He acquired multiple degrees, being initially trained as a doctor at Stanley Medical College in India and obtained a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. He also received an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London and two honorary doctorates.
Named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, 59 year old Ramachandran is an extremely successful professor with the Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego. Among many other achievements, he has published over 180 papers in scientific journals and wrote two best-selling novels. The Tell-Tale Brain provides in depth case studies on patients with bizarre neurological symptoms. He works with them to find an explanation and solution to their problem. In some cases, the issue results from a deficiency of the mirror neuron. Mirron neurons are “brain cells that fire both when we perform a specific action and when we watch someone else perform that same action”(Melnick). According to Ramachandran, these neurons are one of the few aspects that define an individual.
Derived from the Greek word autos meaning “self,” autism spectrum disorder will affect one out of every 150 children. Ramachandram stated in an interview, “We have suggested that the mirror neuron system is deficient in autism, and there’s mixed evidence of that, but most groups support our view”(MC). Certain characteristics of autism, such as late speech development, lack of empathy, poor social skills, and difficulty mimicking others’...