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January 12th, 2010
Web-Exclusive Video: Mirror Neurons

One stop on Alan Alda’s Human Spark journey was a visit with Marco Iacoboni at UCLA. Marco’s area of interest is mirror neurons. These cells in our brains are each active when we perform very particular tasks – such as picking up a fork, or slamming a door – and also when we are simply watching someone else do that same task. In this video, Marco explains his research to Alan and describes how mirror neurons seem sensitive to the intention behind each specific action that’s observed.

Why would mirror neurons be especially important for human beings to possess?

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  • Jack Leon

    Alan Alda … or if you watched this clip, then you have to watch this one about mirror neurons it is the next step in the human connection … … Find the TED website and look for Ramachandran … this stuff is amazing!

  • Larry Purss

    I find this entire topic fascinating. I have read Fonagey’s and Gergeley’s book “Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self” In the book they stress it is MARKED mirror neurons that are critical to social cognition. Gergeley’s “theory of pedagogy” emphasizes that our evolutionary spark is our capacity to LEARN from others who are teachers. My couriosity is in the concept of “intersubjectivity” and if learning only takes place when the person feels securely attached (shared psychological-not biological) sense of connectedness. If attachment is central then we must emphasize the emotional bond BEFORE the teacher-learner relationship is established. This puts a psychological sense of connection at the root of the learning process and becoming human.
    Today’s focus on learning as the individual “Aquiring” individual SKILLS that are de-contextualized and portable across multiple contexts may ignore the most central aspect of learning (MARKED mirror neurons within intersubjective relational process.
    Where do I go to look into this question?

  • Anny Ku

    Larry: I agree with you about establishing an emotional bond before any meaningful learning can take place. As a teacher and a student myself, I am sensitive to the role of attachment and learning. I found out my students’ performance increased when they feel a sense of connection to me. When I distance myself from them for a week, I noticed their motivations and thus performance scores decreased as well. I am glad you mentioned MARKED mirror neurons and its role in the intersubjective relational process. I would like to learn more about them too.

  • Hanan

    I watched TED talk by Dr. Ramachandran, and the content is somewhat similar. It is very fascintating to know how our brain, for that matter neurons are functioning. It seems human beings are about to solve the puzzle besides brain disorders.

  • Gio

    This also explains why we like to watch thriller movies or even pornography. Because our own brains simulate what we are seeing other people doing. This has always been obvious I suppose that there is an element of vicarious living when watching anything other people do, but it’s fascinating to know the science behind this, and the reasons for it.

  • Richard Schiller

    If this is the documentary I saw on mice in running wheels. It was run by very stupid theories and conclusions. It assumed a mouse has more neurons for running and how many hours he ran. Nothing was noted that the mouse has to grab every rung on the wheel or slip thru between them. And the faster he goes, the more the brain has to know where the next rung in the wheel is. Thus the mouse is using his brain more, not his body.

  • Renato Zocchi

    Hi, take a look at theese tv programs. In both there is explicit use of mirror neurons. Very interesting.

    Derren Brown – Trick or treat.series 02 episode 05

    Derren Brown – Trick of the Mind Series 02 Episode 5

    Un grande ‘complimenti’ al dott. Marco Iacoboni

  • Tonda Melendy

    its astounding just what exactly bathe mirrors is able to do for the rest room shaving.

  • janet

    Mirror Neurons I learned a lot, video is very exciting to tell my friends to have a look.

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