Understanding Mirror Neurons

Understanding Mirror Neurons

Last update: 04 November, 2016

What are mirror neurons?

While watching a musical or theatrical performance, we sometimes experience the desire to perform the action ourselves, or even experience different sensations while watching. This response, according to experts, is produced because, as we contemplate the show, certain special neurons become active. These are known as mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons are a group of cells related to certain empathetic, social and imitative behaviors. The mirror neuron’s goal is to reflect the activity that we are observing.

Mirror neurons become active in two situations:

  1. While performing an activity.
  2. While observing someone else perform an activity.

In the second situation, the neuron produces the same neural activity corresponding to the perceived activity, without actually conducting it externally. This is to say that the actions we perceive create a neural reflex response within our brains.

Interesting facts about mirror neurons

These types of cells are located in the inferior frontal cortex of the brain, near the area associated with language development. This allows experts to study the existing relationship between languages and the imitation of gestures and sounds.

Mirror neurons are the cells in charge of making us yawn when we see someone else do it, or for when we find ourselves imitating the gestures of the people closest to us, without really knowing why.

In addition, mirror neurons play a key role in behaviors relevant to psychology, such as empathy, learning by imitating, the desire to help others, etc. Yet again, this goes to show that we are simply social beings.

Finally, we’d like to leave you with this wonderful TED talk about mirror neurons:


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.