Thursday, 8 January 2009

Peanuts and Mirror Neurons

As most people know, the brain is made up of lots and lots of little neurons that are firing all at different moments. More recently, 'mirror neurons' were discovered. A mirror neuron is a something that fires both when a person performs an action and also when they observe the same action being performed by someone else. The neuron "mirrors" the behavior of another person, as though the observer were performing the action themselves. They have been directly observed in primates, and are believed to exist in humans.

Studies have suggested that the mirror neuron system is involved in empathy - experiments using brain scans have shown that certain regions are active when a person experiences an emotion (disgust, happiness, pain, etc.) and also when he or she sees another person experiencing an emotion.

With this in mind, I suspect that one of the reasons that this clip of Matt Lucas singing the Peanut song on Shooting Stars is so funny is because he keeps cracking up, as do the guys sitting behind him. I guess it's called "infectious laughter". All about the mirror neurons...

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