HOMEPAGE


Mirror Neurons

What Are Mirror Neurons

Scientists have recently discovered a type of neuron that fires both when performing an action, but also when watching someone else perform that same action (PBS, 2005). For this neuron, seeing an action is the same as doing it yourself. So it could be because being a sports fan is easy because watching sports is almost like you're actually playing them. It is these neurons that we plan to explain in this website. Our mission is to provide information about mirror neurons, a subject that has garnered the attention and excitement of neuroscientists, linguists, and philosophers in recent years. Their discovery is considered so significant because of their possible involvement in empathy, language, autism, theory of mind, and procedural learning.

(http://filipinaatheist.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/ferrari2003.png)

Seeing and doing with a monkey and a human. Some of the same neurons fire when a monkey does an action, or when it performs the same action.

Empathetic Connections

Mirror neurons not only tie us to other people's actions, but also to their feelings and emotions. This is how mirror neurons could be a factor behind empathy. In a sense, we read other people's minds, and this aspect could explain theory of mind. Children with autism can be very intelligent, but can have profound social deficits. These social deficits could be caused by mirror neurons. Procedural learning could also be aided by mirror neurons; watching someone perform an action could help reinforce that action in your own brain (PBS, 2005).

What This Means

It is possible that mirror neurons could be part of many different aspects of our lives. They could be used by actors, using their movements to inspire feelings in the people who are watching. Basically, there is a part of our brain whose job it is to live in other people's bodies and tell us what is going on. They were discovered by accident in a lab led by Giacomo Rizzolatti in Parma, Italy. During a single neuron recording, a neuron fired when a monkey would reach for a peanut. But they noticed that the neuron would also fire if the researcher reached for a peanut. In essence, that means that for this neuron, seeing and doing are the same (PBS, 2005).