Mirror neurons are called a certain class of neurons that are activated when an animal executes an action and when it observes that same action when it is executed by another similar individual. The neurons of the individual reflect the behavior of the other, as if the observer were performing the action, hence its name “mirror”. These were discovered in the 1990s by Vittorio Gallese and Giacomo Rizzolatti at the University of Parma, in their research on macaque monkeys. In this study it was concluded that these animals acted by imitation. For example, by reaching for a nut once the monkey had seen the researcher pick it up.
During each experiment, they recorded the activity of just one neuron in the animal’s brain as they made it easy for it to eat chunks of food, so the researchers could measure the neuron’s response to such movements. Later studies showed that these neurons were not only active in the part of the brain that controls movement, but specifically in those parts where bodily experiences, pain and emotions are processed.
By John Jiménez – Novembre 2021