Mirror Neurons


In a prior blog I discussed my fear of bees and how I overcame it when I realized that I was exposing my son, Leor, to my fear.  I developed this fear because I saw my sister’s terrified reaction to getting stung by a bee.   The curious thing is that I developed that fear vicariously by observing  my sister while she, who actually experienced the sting, did not.  How come?

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The answer is rather cool. Apparently we have these neurons in our brain which mirror what we perceive in another person. You know how contagious yawning can be?  Well now we know that mirror neurons are responsible for that reaction.  They are also responsible for our ability to feel empathy; to feel what another person feels.  It was these neurons that fired in my brain as I was observing my sister’s reaction that activated the terrified feelings in me that she was feeling.  These feelings got imprinted in my emotional memory and stayed there all those years.  My sister, on the other hand, was able to release her initial reaction of terror as soon as she got some ice and experienced some relief.

This example illustrates how sensitive children can be to the feelings of people around them. They actually get imprinted with emotional associations without their parents even knowing about them.  This explains why children whose mothers are depressed often become depressed themselves.  Mirror neurons clearly also play a very important role in helping a child communicate, imitate and understand the intentions of his parents.

This brings new irony to the often-alluded parental statement of “do as I say not as I do.”

If this knowledge doesn’t inspire you to rewire your brain I don’t know what would?

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3 Comments on “Mirror Neurons”

  • 4 June, 2010,

    Knowing that every single thing that a child can see, hear (or even smell!) is imprinted on an impressionable brain gives a parent an extraordinary tool … one thing it means to me is that we need not wait for so-called “teachable moments” and situations, because every moment counts.

  • ronit
    4 June, 2010,

    This is precisely why this information needs to get out to as many parents, and people in general, as possible. The implications are astounding. We are truly at a major juncture in human history. Parents who understand how their child’s brain is impacted by his/her environment will no doubt become more conscious of their own behavior moment to moment.

  • 21 September, 2015,

    (Reference to the mirror prlncipie posting.) Hi Annie, The “mirror” prlncipie is the illustration of why perception is always a projection of how you see yourself. Perception is what we call thinking that has as its foundation the belief that all minds are separate. This is the way the ego has devised to hide its sense of guilt. Believing its thoughts are private it feels safe from anyone discovering its shame. What it ignores, however, is that by isolating itself from other minds it confines what it “knows” to its own thinking which, in essence is what it thinks about itself. Consequently, all “new” information it processes goes thru the filter of its self-perception and is interpreted in such a way that validates that perception. Hence, everything becomes a mirror for how it sees itself.Understanding how our perception works and why it works that way it is easier to see why this is so difficult for us to accept. Acknowledging that we merely project on others how we see ourselves would be an admission of our guilt and would question the basis for everything we now think is true. It does explain, however, why Jesus tells us we were given the Awareness of the Holy Spirit / God Self. To find the truth we must have access to it that is not distorted by the ego’s perception. We cannot use our ego understanding to change our belief. If we are to find truth we must trust the Guide that knows how to find it. When we forgive what our perception has judged our mind opens to another possibility. Now we can exercise the only real choice we can make; ask the God Self to see what He sees. There is no need here for understanding, and no criticism to try to avoid.

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