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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mirror Neurons, Explained

Dr. Marco Iacoboni, a neurologist and neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, has written a piece for Natural History that explains what mirror neurons are and the role these brain cells play in empathy and social connections. In essence, explains Iacoboni, mirror neurons specialize in allowing us to understand the actions, feelings, and intentions of others by automatically simulating these actions and emotions in our own brains. "When we watch movie stars kiss onscreen, some of the cells firing in our brains are the same ones that fire when we kiss our lovers. And when we see someone else suffering or experiencing pain, mirror neurons help us to read her or his facial expression and make us viscerally feel the suffering or the pain of the other person," he writes. "Those moments, I will argue, are the foundation of empathy (and possibly of morality)."
Iacoboni, who heads the leading lab in human mirror neuron research, adapted the piece from his new book, Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect With Others. —Heather Wax

1 comments:

Kaitlin Shimer said...

I wonder if individuals with anti-social personality disorder (sociopaths) lack the normal amount of mirror neurons. Interesting stuff!