If a child falls and knees open, parents suffer and often even feel the pain. When we meet someone on the bus who smiles at us briefly, we can smile back spontaneously and sometimes put ourselves in a good mood all day long. The question is: why can we intuitively sympathize or imagine what is going on in another person?
Mirror neurons are on
The explanation of these phenomena lies in the mirror neurons discovered by scientists. This is a widely branched system of special nerve cells in our brain. These nerve cells are activated by the presence of other people and, so to speak, invoke the feelings or body states of the other in us as a mirror image. Mirror neurons are thus the neurobiological basis for our intuitive knowledge and understanding of what other people feel. They tell us what people around us feel and let us feel their joy or pain. That's why laughter is so contagious, but vice versa, but also a depressed mood.
Learning and knowledge
From a very early age, babies imitate gestures and facial expressions of their parents. The face of father and mother is - from blinking to making faces - like a mirror for the behavior of the child. The researchers call this behavior, which is anchored in each of us, resonance behavior. This is made possible by the now discovered mirror neurons. However, such triggered resonance reactions have not only psychological, but also biological effects, because all the experiences we make in our environment are transformed by the brain into biological signals. These signals not only change the nerve cell interconnections of the brain, it changes our body as a whole. What we experience, what happens to us from others influences and changes us - emotionally and physically.
Practical application finds the mirroring phenomena in the reception and transmission of knowledge, for example for the understanding of child learning. But there are also examples in medicine. Thus, stroke patients with limb paralysis can obviously accelerate the re-learning of lost skills by observing arm or leg movements.