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3/11/06

Mind Shadows Home      The Anterior Cingulate & Buddhism

I call them "empathy neurons" or "Dalai Llama neurons," says V.S. Ramachandran about mirror neuron cells in the brain's anterior cingulate. They fire when a patient is being poked with a needle. Surprisingly, UCLA researchers found they also fire in the same patient when he watches somebody else being poked by a needle.

Ramachandran observes that many ethical and mystical teachings address the distinction between "I" and "Thou" and dissolving it These mirror neurons provide a physiological basis for understanding religious and ethical beliefs.

The same mirror neurons, believes Ramachandran, provide a means to understand other human mind abilities. As well as empathy, these include “mind reading,” imitation-learning, and even language. Mirror neurons fire when a monkey observes another monkey, or even the experimenter, tasting a peanut. More

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