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It is perhaps only in the last year that I have heard of mirror neurons, and have read several articles.  I will try to gather some articles on this function, and post them here.  I find it interesting.  I think Martha first came upon this in one of the daily emails she gets.  Delancy's place, I believe maybe 6 months ago.

Anyway, I am interested in this area, and want to learn more about it.  Some of what follows will be individual articles not "blog" but inserted to stay above the blog area. 

Brief History    from Society For NeuroScience


In the early 1990s, Italian researchers made an astonishing and quite unexpected discovery. They had implanted electrodes in the brains of several macaque monkeys to study the animals’ brain activity during different motor actions, including the clutching of food. One day, as a researcher reached for his own food, he noticed neurons begin to fire in the monkeys’ premotor cortex—the same area that showed activity when the animals made a similar hand movement. How could this be happening when the monkeys were sitting still and merely watching him?

During the ensuing two decades, this serendipitous discovery of mirror neurons—a special class of brain cells that fire not only when an individual performs an action, but also when the individual observes someone else make the same movement—has radically altered the way we think about our brains and ourselves, particularly our social selves.

Brief Description  from Society For NeuroScience


You see a stranger stub her toe and you immediately flinch in sympathy. You watch a baseball outfielder run to catch a long fly ball and feel your heart racing and your leg muscles pumping along with him. You notice a friend wrinkle up his face in disgust while tasting some food and suddenly your own stomach recoils at the thought of eating. This ability to instinctively and immediately understand what other people are experiencing has long baffled neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers alike. Recent research now suggests a fascinating explanation: brain cells called mirror neurons.







Researchers at UCLA found that cells in the human anterior cingulate, which normally fire when you poke the patient with a needle ("pain neurons"), will also fire when the patient watches another patient being poked. The mirror neurons, it would seem, dissolve the barrier between self and others. [1] I call them "empathy neurons" or "Dalai Lama neurons". (I wonder how the mirror neurons of a masochist or sadist would respond to another person being poked.) Dissolving the "self vs. other" barrier is the basis of many ethical systems, especially eastern philosophical and mystical traditions. This research implies that mirror neurons can be used to provide rational rather than religious grounds for ethics (although we must be careful not to commit the is/ought fallacy).


by V.S. Ramachandran

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Neurology: Mirroring Neurons

This is an ad for an upcoming lecture in NY.  There is not a lot of information here but interesting none-the-less.


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