Mirror neurons echo empathy

By RACHEL WHITE

Pg07-Brain illustration

(Aztec Press photo illustration by Nellie Silva)

 

What does it mean to be human?

Since the dawn of self-awareness, the answer has evaded inquiring minds, but recent developments in neuroscience have provided a piece to the puzzle that is human consciousness.

Behind our mind’s eye exists an intricate network of brain cells possessing science-fiction-like functioning. These brain cells are known as mirror neurons.

Located within the neocortical regions of the brain, our mirror neuron system is part of the most recently evolved portion of the cerebral cortex concerning visual and auditory motor-skills within mammals.

University of California San Diego neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran speculates these neurons’ evolutionary role coincides with the dawn of self-awareness.

“This could be the neural basis of introspection, and of the reciprocity of self-awareness and other awareness,” Ramachandran wrote in a 2009 essay.

This connection between motor skills and emotionality acts as our perceptual link to empathy.

The science of empathy

By virtue of imitation, mirror neurons have equipped modern minds with a telepathic capacity for connecting, observing and understanding.

This serves as the mind’s functional form of empathy.

Whenever we perform an action, watch an action being performed or imagine an action’s performance, the same mirror neuron regions of the brain are activated.

If the brain can attain another’s perception, it can begin to understand, and learn from that point of view.

The brain game

We connect through imitation on a daily basis, in watching movies, music, dance, sports and other activities. If we know the game, our brain plays along, acting as if we are the one in action.

Whether we are observing, imagining or performing, our brain interprets it all the same.

As of 2005, FMRI scans revealed the mirroring system of neurons communicates with the emotional limbic system in the human brain.

Astonishingly, 2009 EEG recordings offered insight into mirror neurons’ electromagnetic nature and the interdependent neural frequencies that communicate with the frequencies of other’s brains.

Therefore, if the mirroring network of neurons connects to emotions within our own minds while communicating with the mirror neuron frequencies of other’s minds, we experience the emotions of another as if they were our own.

The human connection

Of all the traits setting humanity aside from the rest of the animal kingdom, empathy is our greatest biological anomaly.

Empathy at its core directly contradicts the brain’s primal survival instinct.

While it is evident through existence that emotional connection is an innate necessity within humankind, this drive could be argued as an egocentric need for recognition.

It is the self-sacrificing side of empathy that truly perplexes our survival instincts, which is where mirroring neurons come into play.

With greater insight into mirror neurons as electromagnetic conductors of empathy, the anomaly of self-sacrifice can be understood through unbiased telepathy.

Imitating emotions

If the brain imitates emotions, as it does actions, biologically our minds can convolute the emotions arising within us, with those emotions being experienced by others.

This emotional confusion is quintessential intimacy.

Empathy overrides selfish instincts as emotions of another can be experienced as our own.

Of the near 100 billion neurons firing within the human mind, these mirror neurons are profoundly unique in their brain placement and functioning.

Found on either side of the brain, mirror neurons sole purpose is the neural processing of social information within humans.

Until now, consciousness had long been considered an internal expression of personal identity.

All for one

However, at our neurological essence, we are creatures of imitation.

Every aspect of “being me” comes from mirroring another’s behavior.

Previously, neuroscience limited neighboring neuron interaction between the cerebral hemispheres of one brain.

What made these neurons so exceptionally unique was their associative form of communicating, which indicates one’s mirroring system does not differentiate between self-awareness and the awareness of others.

We are in fact, harmoniously hardwired to connect within one conscious reality

Consciousness has been perceived as a sense of identity within each individual brain.

Mirror neurons confirm collective consciousness between all minds.

There is no “one for all.” We are one being, expressed simultaneously as interdependent entities of a conscious force.

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  1. Neuroreporter says:

    This is one of the most misinformed pieces of science reporting I have seen in some time. Yes, V.S. Ramachandran has made quite a few fantastic claims about mirror neurons but there is virtually no evidence to support any of them. His ideas about mirror neurons and self awareness are not taken seriously by most neuroscientists. This sort of misinformation does real science a disservice.

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