mirror neurons

Empathy in the mind of the psychopath is studied.

I learned of a new disorder the other day, via a tweet from SYSK listener (@SteveNovak), called mirror dystonia. Since researching the mirror neurons episode, I've become aware of just how much of a role mirror neurons play in allowing us to not bump one another off in order to get our hands on the last cupcake (and other things, of course).

Fire Walking Leads to Tight Familial Bonds, it Looks Like

Here's the cool fact for the day: The pulses of fire walkers, also known as people who walk on hot coals, fall into sync with those of their family members who are watching them. This from research (via Proceedings of the National Academy of Science) conducted in a town in Spain called San Pedro Manrique, where people do that sort of thing as community ritual and, it appears, for tourists, since the researchers found that the sync does not occur among fire walkers and casual observers.

There's long been a line of thought that the explanation for the altogether odd phenomenon of contagious yawning -- feeling the overwhelming urge to yawn after observing another person yawn -- is found in the empathy of the individual observing the yawn. The idea goes that the more empathetic among us are the most susceptible to contagious yawning and research shows this hypothesis tends to hold up among humans and higher apes.

Mirror Neurons: Are there people who feel others' pain?

People with a condition known as mirror-touch synesthesia literally feel the pain of others -- but why? Josh and Chuck trace the cause of this condition to one culprit: the mirror neuron. Tune in to learn more about mirror neurons and neuroscience.