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We arent on the same wavelength ? November 29, 2006

Posted by Sharath Rao in contemplation, ideas, science.

I dont know for sure but this direction of research might someday explain the real meaning of expressions such that “Our wavelengths dont match” or that “it was love at first sight”.

The most significant finding was the discovery of “mirror neurons,” a widely dispersed class of brain cells that operate like neural WiFi. Mirror neurons track the emotional flow, movement and even intentions of the person we are with, and replicate this sensed state in our own brain by stirring in our brain the same areas active in the other person.

Mirror neurons offer a neural mechanism that explains emotional contagion, the tendency of one person to catch the feelings of another, particularly if strongly expressed. This brain-to-brain link may also account for feelings of rapport, which research finds depend in part on extremely rapid synchronization of people’s posture, vocal pacing and movements as they interact. In short, these brain cells seem to allow the interpersonal orchestration of shifts in physiology.

As I put this up I am drawn to a possible grouse that this blog increasingly appears to be attempting to report or celebrate rational explanations/interpretation of things we hold sacred – things such as religion and deep human emotions such as love and friendship. Well, I dont know but for the moment the beautiful thing to me is the human quest to understand the demystify everything until it all makes sense, until something consistent is found. ( to the extent that the inherent inconsistency of the situation permits ). This spirit, this energy will one day have to encounter the law of diminishing returns. And then something else might come across as being worth my time and curiosity.



1. abhaya - November 30, 2006

While it is indeed nice to find out rational explanations of various behaviour patterns but a lot of the stuff that appears in the media is actually not very accurate and in fact down right false. There has been a lot of reports recently about the research into the differing linguistic capabilities in males and females. But as Mark Liberman shows in pain staking detail that a lot of the citations given have little to do with what is being reported but at times even suggest the opposite view point. Search for “neurons” on language log.

I got reminded of this because few days ago I read somewhere, link to which I am not able to reproduce that mirror neurons are still not very well understood but people are busy using them to explain anything.

2. Sharath Rao - November 30, 2006

You are right Abhaya – we talked about the Lieberman’s argument as well.

These are ofcourse things that we take with grain of salt…also empirical results in the field of sociology and economics etc. what datasets, what conditions, what assumptions etc. is why sometimes i feel pretty hopeless when i read stuff like that…

the problem here really is that journalists are often more laypersons than we are about certain aspects…

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