Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Dropping some science on you here.
There is a class of brain cells that operate like a kind of neural WiFi. These "mirror neurons" were discovered during a scientific study of how people's brains entrain as they interact with each other. Mirror neurons track the emotional flow, movement and possible intentions of the person you are with, and they replicate these sensed states in your own brain in the same areas you perceive to be active in the other person.
This discovery goes a long way toward explaining the phenomena known as "emotional contagion", those feelings of rapport you can experience with someone else. Feeling this way depends on synchronising yourself rapidly to another person's posture, vocal pacing and movements.
In short, mirror neurons, to quote the reporter in yesterday's Science News, allow for the "interpersonal orchestration of shifts in physiology".
Pretty cool, huh?