Neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti, MD, and his colleagues at the University of Parma were mapping the brains of monkeys to see how specific areas of the brain function“They were monitoring a cell,” Goleman says, “that only fired when the monkey lifted its arm. One day, the cell fired even though the monkey hadn’t lifted its arm — they realized he was watching a lab assistance eat an ice cream cone. Whenever the human lifted his arm, the monkey’s cell fired.” In other words the neuron was activated as if the money were taking action. “It turns out to be exactly what happens in human brains too. As you see something, it activates that pattern in you.”
The work with mirror neurons is proceeding furiously around the world. Christian Keysers and Bruno Wicker have shown that one person’s emotions activate another person’s mirror neurons At the University of San Diego Dr. V.S. Ramachandran is studying the link between mirror neurons and autism. In short, our brains are constantly reacting to the environment and literally changing based on the people around us.
“Mirror neurons are a kind of ‘neural wi-fi’ that monitors what is happening in the other people. This system tracks their emotions, what movements they’re making, what they intend and it activates, in our brains, precisely the same brain areas as are active in the other person,” Goleman explains. “This puts us on the same wavelength and it does it automatically, instantaneously and unconsciously.” from the Neural Power of Leadership: Daniel Goleman and Social Intelligence
Mirror Neurons from Wikipedia
A mirror neuron is a neuron which fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another (especially conspecific) animal. Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of another animal, as though the observer were itself acting. These neurons have been directly observed in primates, and are believed to exist in humans and in some birds. In humans, brain activity consistent with mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.
- UN – Mirror Neurons: Role in Autism, Addiction & Recovery
- Mirror Mirror in The Brain – Self discovery and autism
- The role of mirror neurons in addiction and recovery
- Neural correlates of epigenesis: the effect of life stress on depression
- Neural Correlates of Observation of Tactile Stimulation in Healthy Subjects
Further research links: The insula, addiction, depression, case studies, etc.
- Anorexia Nervosa: The insular cortex serves an integrative function for all the structures relevant to the features of AN and as such may be central to this impairment. We hypothesise that a rate limiting dysfunction of neural circuitry integrated by the insula can account for the clinical phenomena of AN.
- Insula and disgust A Common Anterior Insula Representation of Disgust Observation, Experience and Imagination Shows Divergent Functional Connectivity Pathways
- more on the insula and disgust
- Neural mechanisms of empathy in humans: A relay from neural systems for imitation to limbic areas
- Two systems of resting state connectivity between the insula and cingulate cortex.
- Resting-state functional connectivity in major depression: abnormally increased contributions from subgenual cingulate cortex and thalamus.