Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cooler than Sliced Bread with Nutella

So I came across this phenom the other day when I was reading about how we learn behaviors and such.... check out Mirror Neurons here at Wikipedia and here in this NYTimes Article.. on Mirror Neurons. The basic concept is that primates and other animals have these brain neurons that both fire to control your body movements and also fire when you see someone else (or another animal) carry out that action. Humans are thought to have an equivalent system but not specifically individual mirror neurons. You don't physically act out the action spontaneously, but your brain fires off the same sequence that would normally cause the physical action. So when you see someone punch a koala bear in the face, your brain fires off the same set of neurons that you would require to punch another furry forest animal in the face. They believe that we have some sort of equivalent system and that it is responsible for how we learn things and perhaps may be the root of our ability to empathize. In a side note, I read this study a while back about the effectiveness of laugh tracks in movies. The idea being, even when things are not funny. Humans are conditioned to laugh in response to someone else laughing. Perhaps this contagious laughter is driven by mirror neurons causing you to laugh back. This would be super hilarious if your mirror neurons would fire off AND cause you to actually carry out the action.. versus just running a 'simulation' in your brain. This kind of makes me think of the girl in Heroes who can copy anything just by watching... and also the puppet master guy. Anyhow... the monkey picture above just makes me laugh really hard for some reason....

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