Monday, February 25, 2008

Mirror Neurons-Wat the heck??

Dedicated to My friend Ranjini


This term was originally coined by one V.S.Ramachandran, Indian neuroscientist who suggested that humans have the same type of mirror nerves which monkeys have.

Chilling eh???..true! All of us have seen how monkeys can imitate and reciprocate while showing faces at them., the backend activity which assists our dear ancestors to do so, are a bunch of nerves which goes by a fancy name ‘Mirror Nerves’

What these neurons do is just astounding .They just simply try to emulate the same characteristics of another being.Imagine, These neuron things can prove very handy, if you’re a mimicry artist but on the contrary can prove very deadly too.

The typical function/ activity of these ‘mirror neurons’ are something we cannot empathize.We learn, We imitate, We act, We behave by just looking at others. But there are times when we do these things without our conscience.

Entry ‘the ugly side of these neurons’

Yes..these things go merrily carrying on what they were created to do without even our own conscience intention…Scary eh??

Im not trying to talk about something that’s superficial, All of us have been through this.. All of us have put good use of these neurons thingys…at some point in our lives..mm..Actually ‘many’ points in our lives.

How many times,after being in the company of a fellow north Indian friend, have you used the famous hindi jargon ‘yaar’, though you hardly know anything about the language and the only 2 hindi films you’ve seen till date are ‘Dilwale Dhuniya le Jayenge’ and kuch kuch hota hai…

How many times, have you tired to hit the ball for the straight cover drive in one of your street cricket bet matches, courtesy: Watching Tendulkar bat last nite against Bret Lee on the second day of the third test.

How many times have you caught yourselves off guard, sporting a fake American accent during one of your insanely lengthy client call at work.

I can just go on penning down many such instances applicable to everyone.But the mirroring of these neurons goes much beyond these lighter aspects. Have you ever noticed, while you have just stepped out after consoling or parting advice to an emotionally weaked, occasionally pessimistic friend , you kind of have a lingering despressing feeling. You might argue, that’s the sympathy. But it also means that the mirror neurons have been triggered.

Try spending time with one someone who’s totally pissed off, and keeps complaining about his work.In due time, you’ll find yourself deep in conversation bi***ing about your work too.
How many times, have you become really anxious and freaked out after seeing a nervous, tensed person before setting foot into the exam hall. We've all known at least one person who really did seem able to "light up the room with their smile," or another who could "kill the mood" without saying a word.
This is called Emotional Contagion. Emotions are the most vulnerable and thus easily mirrored entities.

From a Cambridge University Press:
"When we are talking to someone who is depressed it may make us feel depressed, whereas if we talk to someone who is feeling self-confident and buoyant we are likely to feel good about ourselves. This phenomenon, known as emotional contagion, is identified here, and compelling evidence for its affect is offered from a variety of disciplines - social and developmental psychology, history, cross-cultural psychology, experimental psychology, and psychopathology."
Regarding the effect of mirror neurons and emotional contagion on personal performance, neurologist Richard Restak offers this advice:
"If you want to accomplish something that demands determination and endurance, try to surround yourself with people possessing these qualities. And try to limit the time you spend with people given to pessimism and expressions of futility. Unfortunately, negative emotions exert a more powerful effect in social situations than positive ones, thanks to the phenomena of emotional contagion."
To keep it simple,
Keep yourself surrounded by happy, optimistic, successful people, guaranteed your life would be blissful.
For a person like me, who has a number of personal blogs, though never have I found time to update any….. The point I’m trying to make is, Its surprising that I had so much to talk about ‘mirror neurons’ primarily because I WANT TO PROVE IT WRONG!!!!..Yes I want to prove V.S.Ramachandran wrong. Wondering who this dude is??..Go to line 1.
Just by surrounding oneself, by fake positivism and happiness radiated from others and keeping yourself away from the truth and the reality, your life becomes perfect!!!! On the contrary, Just by sharing a room with a ‘pessimistic friend’ is going to make you pessimistic….Are you freaking kidding me??!!!!!
Fine, Lets deal with this logically..Being a god forsaken software engineer by profession Im more easily inclined to dealing with matters more logically…
Lets assume, Mr. V.S.Ramachandran theory of ‘Mirror Neurons’ is true.
If this is the case, as long as I am emotionally strong and confident about who I am, the mirror neurons of a ‘pessimistic friend’ would actually emulate my positivism. Would’nt it??
I was once totally baffled, when a friend of mine innocently fired a question on me ‘Whether her negativism had any effect on me’. Uncomfortable as the question was , it sure opened many doors in my mind. “’Negativism’-is too big a word to use.” –was my reply.
Rather that’s the person they are. Not everyone’s the same, Eachone is unique and special in their own ways. If you disagree with me, then please do convince the government of every country in the world to make the cloning process legal.
Hence no bunch of nerves can stop or affect a person’s emotions be it ‘from’ or ‘to’.
Lets face it.

2 comments:

ramblings said...

'nice'! enjoyed the read...your basketball 'parfect' sister scene too was great! :) keep blogging away...

Kavitha Mahalingam said...

@ ramblings,

Thanks,Appreciate it
Keep visitin,!!!