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Friday, April 25, 2014

What is a mirror neuron ?

A mirror neuron is a type of brain cell which allows us to sense what some else is feeling. These cells fire in our brains in response to what we see others doing or experiencing. For example, if some else stubs their toe we will "ouch" along with them, as our mirror neurons fires as if we have also been hurt. This mechanism is the root of "empathy" or our capacity to understand others' feelings and intentions.

Although research is fledgling, some researchers suggest that people with autism have poorly developed mirror neurons, in that autistic people lack in their capacity for social interactions. They don't read social cues very well, if at all.

Mirror neurons fire involuntarily or automatically. We can't choose to turn our neurons on or off; we are at the effect of anything exposed to. Our brains are hard wired to see others as similar to us, rather than differently.

Implications for this research are many. Firstly, it makes sense to spend time with pleasant people as other's moods are likely to rub off on us via these mirror neurons. Secondly, it also makes sense for us to communicate as respectfully as possible, as others reflect back to us what they feel coming from us. Mirror neurons respond to body language as well as language.

Mirror neurons makes the popular saying: "It takes two to tango", so very true.

If you'd like to explore these ideas on a personal level, or you feel stuck with someone who "brings you down", contact Birgit Schinke on her website. 



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