‘Mirror Neurons’ Explain Why ‘I Feel Your Pain’

Ever found yourself crying or laughing along with your neighbor on the morning commute? Salon‘s Gordy Slack explains why:

A young woman sat on the subway and sobbed. Her mascara-stained cheeks were wet and blotchy. Her eyes were red. Her shoulders shook. She was hopeless, completely forlorn. When I got off the train, I stood on the platform, paralyzed by emotions. Hers. I’d taken them with me. I stood there, tears streaming down my cheeks. But I had no death in the family. No breakup. No terminal diagnosis. And I didn’t even know her or why she cried. But the emotional pain, her pain, now my pain, was as real as day.

Recent research in neurobiology would explain my response as the automatic reaction of a kind of brain cells known as mirror neurons. On Nov. 4, neuroscientists announced that mirror neurons had for the first time been directly identified in humans.