Mirror, mirror in my brain

Have you wondered why you say “ouch” when someone stubs their toe? Why movie audiences grimace while watching a horror film?  Mirror neurons help explain our empathic reactions.  Mirror neurons are a special class of brain cells. When we observe another’s experience, our mirror neurons fire inside our brain and create similar sensations.

Mirror neurons increase empathy by helping us to interpret and communicate emotions.  I remember reading “Stranger in a Strange Land” and being impacted by the concept of ‘Groking’ something.   Robert Heinlein wrote: “Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed”. In his 1961 science fiction novel he was describing the yet undiscovered mirror neurons.  Half a century later we are learning it is not science fiction.

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