There are special neurons, which reside in various parts of our brain, called mirror neurons. They are there so we can learn to mimic others’ of actions and read their emotions. How they do this is when we watch other human do things, these mirror neurons fire exactly as if we were doing the same action. This is a big part of the reason we feel that we should behave the way others do in emotional moments. And this is exactly why we have mobs of people tearing up Baltimore. There is no reason or rationale at this point. They are in a frenzy in which their brains are telling them that to follow what the mob is doing will be better for their survival. It is why crowds trample people at the opening of holiday shopping. The behavior is completely instinctual. Only a very aware person can catch and step away for this kind of emotion.
Mirror neurons are behind our love of watching movies or TV shows and reading a juicy novel. It is why we can get lost in them as the same emotions well up in us, along with the corresponding neurochemicals: dopamine, serotonin, and even oxytocin. This is also the enjoyment behind watching sports. Our brains are firing as if we were running down the field, all the while triggering our dopamine. If there is painful contact with one of the players, everyone says, “Ohhh,” as if we somehow feel it.
If you have ever wondered if someone you know is a sociopath then try this test. Yawn in front of them and see if they follow with a yawn.
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