What makes you feel empathy towards others
In the frontal part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) and in some other areas in the brain, there are specific neurons, called mirror neurons and they enhance your capacity to imitate others and to learn social skills. (Read more about this in Rewire your brain by John Arden).
Neuroscientists think that that mirror neurons play an imprtant role in your capacity to feel empathy for another person.
For example, mirror neurons make you want to yawn when you see someone else yawning, they help you read another person´s intentions, get a feeling for what the other person is feeling and get empathy for him/her. Empathy is associated with the right somatosensory cortex so if this part is damaged you get a loss of empathy. Since mirror neurons also may be part of your ability to feel emapthy for someone else, they make you respond to when someone is sad.
Scientists have found that there also exist super mirror neurons that are thought to control the activity of the classic mirror neurons. Super mirror neurons help you for example to stop your impulses to imitate another person´s action.They also help you to form a sense of yourself and another person from a sense of “us”. Mirro neurons also help you to through “feeling” grasp what someone is thinking. So mirror neurons help you understand and predict the behavior of others. Understanding and predicting the behaviors of others is called “theory of mind”.
To be continued…
Cognitive Behavior Psychologist Monica Emanell