Mirror Mirror In My Brain

Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum v...

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Scientists have recently identified a particular class of viuomotor nerve cells called mirror neurons and research shows that they fire when a monkey does a particular action and when it observes another individual, be it a monkey or human, doing a similar action. Identical mirror neurons also exist in the human brain.

Have you ever cried in response to someone else’s tears or laughed when they did? If you have, you were responding to the function of mirror neurons, which replay learned personal responses derived from our own experiences when we observe others having similar experiences. When we act, we intend to reach a goal. When we observe someone else act, mirror neurons translate their behaviours so we can infer their intentions. Neuroscientists listening in on brain cells suggest that mirror neurons are the root of empathy, which is the ability to discern others thoughts and intentions.

Just imagine what we humans could do in evolving coherence in the human population! If individuals expressed love, joy, happiness & gratitude, the mirror neurons in those people observing them would stimulate them to experience the same sensations. These neurons could initiate a neurological chain reaction through which an entire population would catch the healthy vibe of positive feelings – how cool would that be?

Think about charismatic people like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King who had such profound effects on the publics emotions and attitudes. According to Dr Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Centre, optimistic responses can be learned. He maintains that modern society reinforces victimhood and learned helplessness & suggests that helplessness can be reprogrammed by choosing a healthier perspective in the face of challenges. He recommends reframing bad events as temporary setbacks, isolated to particular circumstances that can be overcome by ones efforts & abilities. In other words… when plagued by a persistent negative thought lean into an equally true positive thought about the same situation.

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