This Is Your Brain on Sports – Empathy and mirror neurons

The science behind watching the game….


The evidence that the spectating brain is also a playing brain has been mounting ever since the early 1990s, when a group of neurophysiologists at the University of Parma, Italy implanted electrodes in the brain of a macaque monkey to find out exactly which neurons fired when the monkey grasped a peanut and brought it to his mouth. The electrodes were placed in the monkey’s premotor cortex, the region known to initiate signals that direct muscle movement in both macaques and humans. The researchers hoped that pinpointing the individual motor neurons that fired when the monkey grasped the peanut might lead to therapies that could help brain-damaged humans recover hand function.


…about one-fifth of the neurons that fire in the premotor cortex when we perform an action (say, kicking a ball) also fire at the sight of somebody else performing that action.


by Le Anne Schreiber