What are mirror neurons

  • 1 What they are

    Mirror neurons are a set of neurons that become active when a person does a certain task or when they see someone else doing the same task. If a person saw someone jumping then the mirror neurons might get activated as if that person was jumping as well.

  • 2 They are responsible for empathy

    When a person sees someone suffering, the mirror neurons activates this person's empathy towards the one experiencing misfortune.

  • 3 They are responsible for learning

    If a mother worried often or got afraid whenever something unexpected happened then her child might learn to fear the things their mother feared because of their mirror neurons. Mirror neurons can also help a person learn a new skill through observation.

  • 4 They can be responsible for the development of a phobia

    If a child saw their parents getting terrified whenever they saw a spider then they might develop a phobia of spiders because their mirror neurons always fired when they saw them afraid.

  • 5 They allow us to experience the meaning of things

    When a human sees another human smiling, the mirror neurons fire and so a person gets a similar feeling to the one who is smiling without having to think logically about the intention behind the smile.

  • 6 Mirror neurons are also found in monkeys

    Many studies have been carried out on monkeys because they have similar mirror neurons to humans. In one experiment, a monkey was conditioned to fear snakes just because it saw the fear response of another monkey when it was presented with a snake.

  • 7 They are one of the reasons movies affect us

    When we see a movie and experience similar emotions to the actors, it's usually because of our mirror neurons that make us believe we are going through similar situations as the movie's actors.

  • 8 It's believed they help in spreading language

    Some people suggest that mirror neurons help in the spreading out of language and in learning new language skills. See why we speak different languages

  • 9 Problems with mirror neurons might cause Autism

    Some people suggest that problems with mirror neurons can lead to the development of autism.

  • 10 Females have greater empathy

    In one study, it was suggested that females have more powerful mirror neurons and that they are more empathetic than men.

  • 11 They are responsible for mirroring others

    Mirror neurons are responsible for the act of mirroring a person unconsciously. If a person mimicked the body language of their friend or if a person yawned right after their friend yawned, it's usually because of mirror neurons.

  • 12 They might have the function of protection

    Some psychologists suggest that mirror neurons might have the function of protecting people from harm. When a person observes someone during a misfortune, like an accident, their mirror neurons might motivate them not to do like this person.

  • 13 Further research needed

    Many of the facts believed to be true about mirror neurons are still subject to debate. More research is still needed before a final word can be said.