Mirror neurons are one of the most important discoveries in the last decade of neuroscience.As we know that the brain consists of 100 billion neurons which are the nerve cells that makes us who we are (Mastin,2009). These neurons communicate electrically to provide us with any cognitive task.I will be talking specifically about mirror neurons which are “A cortical network of areas that enables individuals to understand the meaning of actions performed by others through the activation of internal representations.” (Acharya et al.,2012) When you see a stranger injured you immediately feel pain and hurt, or you see a person crying when facing a loss of a family member suddenly you feel sad and depressed. This ability to instinctively and immediately understand what other people are going through is where mirror neurons are introduced by neuroscientists.
The Experiment behind Mirror neurons is done by the scientist Gales when he observed the premotor cortex of the monkeys and found out that a number of neurons respond both when a monkey performed a goal-oriented task,and when the monkey watched another (human or monkey) perform that task.This lead to the evolution of mirror neurons and neuroscientist tried to base this on the human brain.Regarding humans mirror neurons plays several roles as it appears to allow us to determine other people’s intentions as well as their actions. For example, one area of the mirror neuron system exhibits greater activation in our brains when we observe someone picking up a cup to have a drink than when we watch the same person picking it up to clear it from a table (Mullen,2010).
Moreover, mirror neurons have a huge role in empathy which I found very interesting and it was this topic about empathy that made get to write about mirror neurons.As empathy is the feeling that I get the most and sometimes it could make me forget about myself and focus on other’s problems and issues which I believe is not always right.As I found that Mirror neurons contribute to understanding other’s emotions and sensations which is empathy (Lacaboni,2009). It makes us feel what other’s are going through as if it was our own emotions which emphasize how we are social human beings and we get our positivity and energy from interactions and communicating with the others In fact, “It seems we’re wired to see other people as similar to us, rather than different,” Gallese says. “At the root, as humans, we identify the person we’re facing as someone like ourselves” (Gallese,1998).
Furthermore,studies have found that people with autism—a disorder characterized, in part, by problems during social interactions—appear to have a dysfunctional mirror neuron system. The more severe the symptoms of autism, the less active the mirror neuron system seems to be. Studies have demonstrated that children with autism have difficulties understanding the intention of others on the basis of the action they observe. In order to decide what others are doing, they rely on object meaning or the context in which the action is performed (Williams, et al., 2001).
Finally, it seems clear that mirror neurons are one key to understanding how human beings survive and thrive in a complex social world, says neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese, MD, Ph.D., one of Rizzolatti’s colleagues at the University of Parma.Mirror neurons are in fact still a very new finding in biological psychology and needs more studies and experiments to further understand its capabilities.
Mastin, L. (2010). Neurons & synapses – memory & the brain – the human memory. Retrieved June 28, 2016, from http://www.human-memory.net/brain_neurons.html
Gallese, V., & Goldman, A. (1998). Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind-reading. Trends in cognitive sciences, 2(12), 493-501.
Sinigaglia, C., & Rizzolatti, G. (2011). Through the looking glass: self and others. Consciousness and cognition, 20(1), 64-74.
Iacoboni, M. (2009). Imitation, empathy, and mirror neurons. Annual review of psychology, 60, 653-670.
Mullen, G. MIRROR NEURONS: OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING.
Miall, R. C. (2003). Connecting mirror neurons and forward models. Neuroreport, 14(17), 2135-2137.
Williams, J. H., Whiten, A., Suddendorf, T., & Perrett, D. I. (2001). Imitation, mirror neurons and autism. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 25(4), 287-295.