Implicit empathy by evolution or “why you tap your feet.”
Christian Keysers from “What’s next? Dispatches on the future of science” 2009
Recently I began reading this book of science essays that were meant to assess the future. Seeming it is 10 years since the book was published, I thought it may be interesting to revisit these. Here the focus was on neurons and empathy.
When we move, our premotor cortex fires.
This is seen in monkeys and in humans, as well as many other animals. It is tightly linked to making our muscles contract and hence our body move. But here is the weird thing…
When we see others move, our premotor cortex fires.
It isn’t just seeing either, hearing has been shown to trigger it too. The neurons that fire in the premotor cortex are known as Mirror Neurons.
When we see people dance, we want to tap our feet; when someone itches, we may itch; when someone hurts themselves, we may feel that too. It may be milder but there is a reaction.
Evolutionarily, this has helped species learn from one another: they did that and hurt themselves; they ate this and were happy.
This could refer to or begin to grow an implicit empathy a species may have for one another.
- Mirror neurons have been found in rats
- Have been linked to a variety of psychological disorders
- and have been cited by Forbes as a way to improve your career by being more conscious of them