Skip to main content

Mirror Neurons - They Change Everything

Blow your mind in the seven minutes and forty-four seconds:



You just watched V.S. Ramachandran, Director for the Center of Brain and Cognition at the University of California Sand Diego, cross the mind/brain barrier in his description of mirror neurons.  These neurons, a subset of the command neurons in the frontal cortex, are the neurobiological basis for imitation, culture and empathy.  What we see another do or feel causes mirror neurons in our own brains to fire, so that we understand or feel the same.

This week's blogpost is published late because I kept trying to explain what mirror neurons explain.  They explain everything.

They explain why rich people are not as generous as poor people.  (That may get its own post soon.)  They explain why religious people give more than nonreligious people, more time, more money, more blood.  (My source for that one is sociological, not neurobiological.  So I may not blog it, though mirror neurons would explain it.)  They explain why people who own guns are more afraid than people who do not, and why people who watch tv overestimate the crime rate.  They explain pornography.  They explain Congress.


Mirror neurons also explain why poor people are generous, and so are certain rich people, how children learn to volunteer, why you should let them have that puppy, and whether they will visit you in your old age.

Whether the world goes to hell in a handbasket or not, mirror neurons will explain how.

Oh yes, and mirror neurons explain what interests Dr. Ramachandran, the development of language, use of tools and culture.

Not to mention that mirror neurons are a piece of the revival of Lamarckian evolution.  But that is moving you way far afield.

Obviously, I just have to stop.  They change everything.

flair from Facebook.com

Comments

Popular Posts

Anosognosia and Amador

Anosognosia. It means lack of insight. But from the mouth of Xavier Amador, it’s his ticket. He tells you he knows why your son or daughter won’t take meds. And you are desperate for the answer, aren’t you. Because schizophrenia is a terrible disease and your beloved child is sick and won’t take the meds. The meds would make everything alright. So you are desperate and Xavier Amador throws you a lifeline, a promise that once you understand this unpronounceable word, you can learn how to get your child to take the meds.

He must be right, right? Because he is a psychologist and he can pronounce it. And then the kicker, he also loved somebody with schizophrenia, and he says he got him to take the meds. So NAMI invites him to give the spotlight lecture, and for the rest of the convention, parents hear every other presentation through the filter of this new word that they cannot pronounce.

Here is how you pronounce it:



But really, why bother? It means lack of insight. But you have heard o…

Loony Saints - Margaret of Cortona Edition

Every once in a while, Prozac Monologues reaches into my Roman Catholic childhood's fascination with saints, especially the ones who today might be assigned a diagnostic code in the DSM.  Twice, Lent Madness has introduced me to new ones that I share with you.



A few years ago it was Christina the Astonishing.










Today it's Margaret of Cortona.  If you're a Lent Madness regular, you'd expect Margaret to be a shoe in for the first round of voting, where her competition is a stuffy old bishop/theologian, because Margaret became a Franciscan and, more significantly, her story features a dog.  Lent Madness voters are suckers for dogs.

Trading Symptom Relief for Side Effect Relief

Why do people stop taking their psych medication?


Psychiatrists spend a lot of time on this question. They used to call it noncompliance. Then they figured out that the word fed the power struggle between doctor and patient. Now they call it nonadherence. Me, I am not convinced that the word change reflects an attitude shift on doctors' parts, i.e., that they have changed their attitudes toward noncompliantpatients,haveabandoned the power struggle themselves, and instead want to partner with their patients. I suspect the word change is a cosmetic shift designed to change the patient's attitude.

Psychiatric Times regularly publishes articles on why patients don't take their meds and best practices for improving adherence. Suboptimal adherence is pervasive among individuals with chronic health conditions, including psychiatric disorders... However, many mental health practitioners ascribe nonadherence to the mental illness itself.

Xavier Amador thinks it is because we don't…