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July 23, 2007 — The brain's mirror neuron network responds differently depending on whether we are looking at someone who shares our culture, or someone who doesn't. A thumb's up for "I'm good." The rubbing of a pointed forefinger at another for "shame on you." The infamous and ubiquitous middle finger salute for--well, you know. Such gestures that convey meaning without speech are used and recognized by nearly everyone in our society, but to someone from a foreign country, they may be incomprehensible. The opposite is true as well.
A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. Such neurons have been directly observed in primate and other species including birds . In humans, brain activity consistent with that of mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex , the supplementary motor area , the primary somatosensory cortex and the inferior parietal cortex . The function of the mirror system is a subject of much speculation.
Apr. 27, 2010 — The human brain fires differently when dealing with people outside of one's own race, according to new research out of the University of Toronto Scarborough. This research, conducted by social neuroscientists at University of Toronto-Scarborough, explored the sensitivity of the "mirror-neuron-system" to race and ethnicity. The researchers had study participants view a series of videos while hooked up to electroencephalogram (EEG) machines.
Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran (born 1951) is a neuroscientist known for his work in the fields of behavioral neurology and visual psychophysics . He is the Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] and is currently a Professor in the Department of Psychology [ 4 ] and the Neurosciences Graduate Program [ 5 ] at the University of California, San Diego . Ramachandran is noted for his use of experimental methods that rely relatively little on complex technologies such as neuroimaging .