A Mirror Neuron is a neuron which fires both when an animal performs an action and when the animal observes the same action performed by another animal.
Discovery ~ Brain imaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown that the same area of the brain is active: when the person performs an action and when the person sees another individual performing an action.
In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area, the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex.
Why do sports fans feel so emotionally invested in the game, reacting almost as if they were part of the game themselves? The Do-er, as though the Observer were acting. Brain imaging, inside our heads, we constantly "act out" & imitate the activity we're observing. “Mirror neurons" help us understand the actions of others & prime us to imitate what we see.
About 10% of neurons in the monkey inferior frontal & inferior parietal cortex have 'mirror' properties. Humans have similar mirror neurons systems which respond during both action and observation of action. Wide network of brain areas shows mirror properties in humans. Why is this Important? Makes the observer feel what it feels like to move in the observed way.
Functions Empathy Important in understanding the actions of other people Understanding Intentions Language Acquisition Inference Imitation Learning new skills Problems with the mirror system May underlie cognitive disorders