Mirror Neurons and Empathy

Mirrors, both in a physical and metaphorical sense, have featured prominently in our inter-species experiments. In the 1970’s, an actual mirror was used in measurements of self-awareness which became known as the mirror self recognition (MSR) test. It was shown that some primates were able to recognise their own reflection as proven by noting whether the animal was able to detect a spot marked with odourless dye. Then in the 1990’s, a monkey brain wired up in a region associated with planning and carrying out movements, showed activity when simply observing a researcher that entered the room licking an ice cream cone. This became the accidental origins of the mirror neuron system (MNS). A functional match between a motor response and a perceptual one.

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