Are We Wired for Empathy? What do mirror neurons teach about us about our empathy?

What do mirror neurons teach about us about our empathy? This week, leading neuroscientist Marco Iacoboni visited with Six Seconds’ Master Class in Pajaro Dunes, California, for an oceanside chat on mirror neurons and their relationship to empathy and learning. A few of us collected some of the takeaways:

 

What are Mirror Neurons?

Mirror neurons are “smart cells” in our brains that allow us to understand others’ actions, intentions, and feelings. The mirror neurons are in many areas of our brains, and they fire when we perform an action such as grasping an apple, and similarly we see others doing it. As it turns out, our mirror neurons fire when we experience an emotion and similarly when we see others experiencing an emotion, such as happiness, fear, anger, or sadness.