[ISEA2009] Paper: Todd Winkler – Video mirrors and mirror neurons: a look at empathy in participatory immersive environments


Mirror neurons
One of the most important recent developments in neuroscience comes from the discovery of mirror neurons, a type of brain cell that is activated both by performing an action and by watching the same action performed by others. Mirror neurons offer a scientific explanation for our intuitive or ‘gut’ understanding of how others feel, by the direct transmission of experience through the stimulation of the viewer’s brain. The viewer senses and understands someone else’s emotions and sensations as if they were experiencing it themselves. Using advanced sensing techniques to measure brain activity and physiological response, scientists have found that the same neural activity is shared by both the observer and the observed. Neurologist V.S. Ramachandran calls mirror neurons ’empathy neurons,’ as they give us the ability to feel what another is feeling, and thereby understand their internal experiences. This leads to the dissolution of the barrier between self and others, the basis of many philosophical beliefs and artistic experiences

  • Todd Winkler Brown University, USA

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