mirror neurons

anonymous asked:

I have a character who did not have much interaction with others during her childhood. Would this have any lasting effects on her?

CW: child abuse and extreme neglect are extensively discussed.

Being around other people is CRITICAL for a child’s development.

Okay. So I’m going to talk about two levels of isolation here.

The first level is going to be the Romanian Orphanage level of neglect.

The backstory is a bit complicated, but the upshot is that Romania suddenly had a hell of a lot of unwanted children, most of which had to be raised in institutional orphanages. There were not enough caregivers for the amount of children they had to deal with.

So what ended up happening is that babies were left in their cribs, 24/7, and fed and changed on a strict schedule. The babies learned not to cry, because it didn’t make a caregiver come running any faster. They didn’t have toys; all they could do is stare at their hands or the ceiling.

That lack of stimulation was found to have pretty significantly negative effects as the kids grew up. These kids are often physically stunted – they’re not as big as they should be for their age. Their brains are often actually physically smaller. They have lower IQs. They struggle with language. They also have problems with attachment.

Things do start to get better if the character is put into a foster home quickly, but they may still have emotional and psychological problems (there are some links below for further research).


Now. The other level of isolation I’m going to talk about is, for lack of a better term, the horror stories. These are children who were raised in extreme isolation by severely abusive caretakers, if they had caretakers at all.

Most children who are completely isolated or severely deprived of interaction have not learned, or have extreme difficulties with, language.

They also have difficulty with basic motor skills. There’s something in our brain called “mirror neurons.” @scriptbrainscientist will be able to elaborate more, but basically it boils down to “Monkey see, monkey do.” We learn how to do things because we mimic the behaviors of people around us. If there’s no one around the character, they won’t know how to do things. The character won’t know how to put on clothes or tie their shoes. They won’t know how to use a fork or knife. They may not even know how to walk.

Even if the character does have some social interaction, if they are mostly isolated, the level of interaction they get isn’t enough to foster normal development.

Now. That’s not to say that the character won’t ever be able to develop language and learn those skills. This kind of thing is not seen often enough for psychologists to make that kind of a conclusion. But every report we’ve seen so far says that feral or isolated kids never reach the level of functioning of same-age peers.

The best-studied case of a child being raised in isolation is that of a girl who was nicknamed “Genie.” 

I’m putting the rest of this post under the jump because what was done to her is nothing short of horrific.

Keep reading

If ya’ll don’t believe that our thoughts influence the reality around us, you should really take a look at the double-slit experiment. In short, quantum objects such as electrons and wave patterns have been show to just appear and disappear when observed and ignored. However the electron doesn’t cease to exist, in fact the same electron can be in one place, and/or in multiple places. Both of these anomalies are referred to as wave properties and quantum jumps. Another anomaly is that a quantum object cannot fully exist (in this reality) unless observed which means that consciousness literally collapses the wave-function of a particle.

tl;dr
Science proves consciousness affects and shapes reality by meddling in 4th dimensional physics and its effects on 3rd dimension physics.

To further shed light on why consciousness effects the quantum, i’d reccomend looking up the paradox of mirror neurons and how the brain forms them.

Mirror Neurons and Empathy

Empathy is defined as the capability for an individual to understand, imagine, and feel the internal states and emotions of other individuals. Although once thought to be a defining characteristic of human beings, it has been also observed in higher order primates such as the macaque monkey.  This discovery has made it possible to initiate correlational studies on a specific type of neurons known as mirror neurons that facilitate imitation, empathy and theory of mind in humans.

Mirror neurons were first discovered during single cell recording studies conducted on a group of neurons (F5 region) responsible for specific hand and mouth movements in macaque monkeys that activated when subjects observed other individuals performing motor actions in which the individual manipulated a graspable object.

The neurons did not activate upon observation of the motor action alone, nor did they fire upon observation of the object alone. The neurons were hypothesized to help aid the monkeys in learning motor behaviors by observation, but did not seem to serve more complex higher order functions (Gallese, Goldman 1998).

To find out whether or not humans possessed mirror neurons, and whether or not they served more complex functions, a study was conducted on subjects in which motor evoked potentials were stimulated in the brain using a technique known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Researchers (Fadigta et al) then measured whether or not the rate of these potentials increased due to the observation of motor actions in other individuals. Potentials increased dramatically only in motor areas reflecting those which the observed individual used (Gallese, Goldman 1998).

 

Brain imaging studies have shown that the brain structures housing the vast functional majority of mirror neurons to be the superior temporal cortex,

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the inferior parietal lobule,

and the inferior frontal cortex (Iacoboni 2009).

During a study in 1999 conducted by Marco Iacoboni, subjects observed individuals perform simple finger movements, and then conducted these finger movements themselves. Blood Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) measurements showed an increase during the observation of finger movements that was half the intensity of the measurements shown during the performance of the finger movements. Subjects were then instructed to perform the finger movements while simultaneously watching the individuals perform the same movements. The BOLD measurements for both action and observation added up to the sum of both previous measurements. FMRI imaging revealed the source of the signals to be at the posterior area of the inferior frontal gyrus and the rostral area of the posterior parietal cortex. These areas are also known to overlap the posterior part of the Broca’s area. It is hypothesized that this overlap lends a role to internal, mental verbalization (Iacoboni 2009).

Further studies have revealed that the posterior area of the superior temporal sulcus (located directly under the superior temporal cortex) provides the core cortical circuitry for imitation and responds to watching intentional actions (Iacoboni 2009) such as a person moving food with the intention of putting it in their mouth. This suggests that the observation of goal oriented actions triggers signals in the brain that resemble that very same action, which are stopped from becoming motor actions in the receiver by inhibitory structures such as the globus pallidus, a structure that is part of the basal ganglia involved in motor action inhibition.

In a lesion experiment in which an individual with damage in the prefrontal cortex (which deals with most of the inhibition in the mirror neuron system) observed an experimenter perform actions and automatically imitated them lends credit to this hypothesis (Gallese, Goldman 1998). The superior temporal cortex gathers the visual description of observed actions and transmits the signal to the inferior parietal lobule and the inferior frontal cortex mirror areas. The  parietal lobule codes the motor aspect of the action while the frontal cortex codes the perceived goal of the action (Iacoboni 2009).

The mirror neuron system is hypothesized to be present at birth, however its capacities are at first limited to mimicking simple tongue protrusions (Heyes 2009).

However, through repeated exposure to action related stimuli, a process of long term potentiation (LTP) takes place in which children further develop mirror neurons through experimental modulation(a process of trial and error initiated by mimicking observed actions). It has been shown that repeated exposure to specific types of stimuli and motor actions increase the intensity of the neural response, for example; an experienced pianist would have a higher mirror neuron response to watching another pianist due to their depth of sensory/motor experience in those specific movements (Heyes 2009).

Most developing children build sensory/motor experiences through watching and mimicking their parents. According to the Sally-Anne Test (also known as the false belief test), children can mentally imagine and assume the mental state of others by the age of four (Baron-Cohen et al. 1985), a key component of the development of empathy. At this point, the mirror neuron system seems to be fully formed with the development of theory of mind.

(If a child has developed theory of mind, they will assume that sally would still look for the ball in the basket, however, less developed children are more self-centric and will assume that Sally will look for the ball in the box)

Empathy is believed to be due to connections between the core circuitry of the mirror neuron system and the limbic system. FMRI studies have shown that subjects observing facial expressions in individuals experience a limbic system response in which the observed emotion is produced in the observer (Iacoboni 2009).

Two theories have been articulated in order to explain how such emotions are evoked in the observer. Theory-theory claims that people hold an overarching, common sense type schema of how people behave and are supposed to behave in order to infer the mental states of others. However, this theory does not explain why emotions expressed by individuals are also evoked in observing subjects (Gallese, Goldman 1998). Simulation theory, on the other hand suggests that empathy involves “putting the self in someone’s shoes”. Subjects look at other individuals and try to simulate in themselves the other’s beliefs, dispositions, and experiences and subjectively use their own emotional reaction to an imagined situation in order to asses the other’s emotions (Gallese, Goldman 1998).

 

Simulation theory is currently the more widely accepted as it suggests that empathy “establishes a link between others and ourselves” (Gallese, 2001) in which humans are able to project themselves into the minds of others and become aware of their emotions.

Since observed behaviors also contribute to the identities of developing humans, they learn to build an appreciation of similarity with which they can identify emotions of others as same or similar to their own “despite observed differences” (Gallese, 2001). It has also been suggested that awareness of bodily states due to mirror neuron responses can not manifest itself without awareness of dispositional states. Credit is lended to this hypotheses from an experiment conducted by Hutchison et al. known as the Pain Mirror Phenomenon, in which subjects’ neural activity was recorded while receiving a pin prick. It was later observed that the same neurons that responded during the pin prick also responded when subjects observed an individual receiving a pin prick (Gallese, 2001). Coordination between sensorimotor neural systems and affective neural systems suggests the “simplification and automatization of behavioral responses that living organisms are supposed to produce in order to survive” (Gallese, 2001). The results of these studies sheds a light on the communal nature of our species, and the importance of interconnectedness to survival.


-Written by Ahmad Elsayed
(This was my personal focus of study during my neuroscience class, and I’m REALLY into it. I’m actually thinking of taking this to the Ph.D level some day)

References

 

1. Gallese, V., & Goldman, A. (1998). Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind-reading. Trends in cognitive sciences, 2(12), 493-501.

 

2. Iacoboni, M. (2009). Imitation, empathy, and mirror neurons. Annual review of psychology, 60, 653-670.

 

3. Heyes, C. (2010). Where do mirror neurons come from?. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 34(4),    575-583.

 

4. Baron-Cohen S, Leslie AM, Frith U (1985). “Does the autistic child have a ‘theory of mind’?” Cognition 21 (1): 37–46.


5. Gallese, V. (2001). The shared manifold hypothesis. From mirror neurons to empathy. Journal of consciousness studies, 8(5-7), 5-7.

many faces, but one name.

it has faces comparable to the blue of the ocean, so you’ll drown when it rains and break when you’re alone. a series of difficult emotions to process– it only has one name. we confuse it, very often, we suffocate it. we turned this daylight butterfly into a heavy stone and that’s how we got the sound of heartbreak. we use mirror neurons to copy the people that makes us feel nice. how could I ever hate you if we’re so alike? how could I erase you if you’ve always taken me far from this place? it’s such a shame. it’s torture. you have one name, but multiple pretty faces– how do I find you? which one will ask me to stay? how will I know that it’s you? how many lifetimes must I search before I have you? did we meet in a book? are we fiction? did we get written down by a writer? oh, passion. are we fireproof? I cry so I’m not waterproof, my heart breaks– proof that you’re real and I’ll search for you. my hands shake, I’ve had too much coffee. in one life, how many times will I have met you? how many versions of your lips have I kissed? maybe we once reached for the same candy bar, how many times have our skins touched? cheap jump scares in horror movies, how many times did I clutch your hands? it’s such a shame. have I gotten in trouble with you before? have we been to places that were off limits? they say that some people were made from the same stars. oh, stardust. if I was made from the moon and you were made from the sun… how will we ever meet? I don’t want easy. I want complicated. can something as profound as you exist more than once in a single lifetime? how many years will I confuse you as someone else? within decades, how many times will we have said hello as strangers and walked away without a second thought? how many nights will I spend calling out your name? how many seasons will past until our petals bloom? I have a million questions, when will you be my only answer? my heart has been broken before, but I’m certain that it wasn’t your fault. I’ve written a few thousand poems, were you ever my muse? you have a billion faces, but only one fucking name. some call you pain. some call you bittersweet. some call you as you’re walking away. me? I call you love.

j-u-u-z-o  asked:

Have you ever watched the first official fan meeting/letter to army by bangtan? If so, did you cry? 🤧🤧😭 i really like watching it a lot because they've come such a long way. y'know? Sorry. I just rewatched it and just had to ask you that question. Ps: when people cry I cry as well... (mirror neurons activated) 😔😭🤧

How can anyone not cry to THIS. I was bathing in my tears. Seing BTS crying is like a switch button that makes me sob even harder I hope every ARMY who haven’t seen it does, just to know that these boys feelings towards their fans were so sincere since day one. . :

Sorry for taking an eternity to answer @j-u-u-z-o <3

Mirror Neurons And Audience Psychology

Mirror neurons are cells in the brain which activate not only when an performs an action, but also when it observes some other animal performing the same action.

For instance, when you grab a piece of fruit (let the world be your oyster here- any fruit is acceptable [except mango]), the motor neurons in control of your fingers, hand, and arm, all have to activate in order to send the necessary information to your muscles about where the non-mango fruit is and how you need to position your body in order to grab it. 

When you see somebody else grab a piece of fruit (let that bastard handle the mango. See if they like having sticky hands all afternoon), mirror neurons linked to your fingers, hand, and arm, activate as if you were the one grabbing the fruit in the first place. However, whereas if your motor neurons activated you’d be moving towards that mango like a real fruit rookie, when your mirror neurons activate no such thing happens. When you watch some idiot grab a mango with his bare hands, you’re able to imagine how sticky and awful that would feel because of mirror neurons. 

Mirror neurons, in short, are the way in which a brain is able to form a mental representation of a body and mind other than its own. VS Ramachandran, a neuroscientist who’s far more intelligent than I am, does a better job of explaining all of this than I can in this TED talk:

Taken together, the psychological concept of flow and the neurological evidence for the role of mirror neurons seem capable of forming a basic theory of the factors at play during an improv show.

When a performer’s choices are made accessible to the audience and there is little to no invention, an audience member’s mirror neurons are able to fire in time with the choices the performer is making. This gives the performer a modicum of control over the audience member’s mental state.

However, for this effect to occur, an audience member to be paying very close attention to the show. The performer, therefore, must find a way to reward the audience members for paying close attention.

Game does this to some extent, in that one is better able to appreciate the pattern of a game if they’ve been paying close attention the entire scene. The promise of connections and callbacks also encourages an audience member to pay attention, for in order to appreciate those moves fully one must know what it is they’re connecting or calling back to. Though game moves, connections, and callbacks can be appreciated in isolation to some extent, full appreciation requires understanding the larger pattern they fit into.

Therefore, performers must not only challenge themselves to play game, but to heighten and explore the game of the scene in ways which will surprise even the most attentive audience member. This challenge, which is being undertaken with the goal of engaging the audience fully, pushes improvisers towards a state of flow.

Likewise, knowing that missing a move, even a tiny one, might result in a reduced appreciation of future moves challenges an audience to pay attention at the height of their ability. And, when they do, they approach a state of flow.

Performers will frequently fine tune a show as it goes along based on what the audience is responding to. Likewise, audiences will fine tune their response as they refine their expectations of a show. This is part of the reason why it can be tough to do shows for a bunch of people who’ve never seen improv before or don’t know it very well- they respond too frequently for the performers to be able to trust them. Audiences who’s expectations are refined enough to recognize and encourage subtle moves are more likely to encourage performers to make moves which reward the high level of attention needed to notice subtle moves in the first place. It’s a positive feedback loop.

When the performers begin responding to the audience responding to the performers responding to the audience responding to the performers responding to the audience responding to the performers, the gap between the audience’s internal representation of the show and the performer’s internal representation of the show narrows. Since the show is being created moment to moment, the internal representations of the performer and the audience must be nearly in lockstep- a bit of neurological sleight of hand accomplished by mirror neurons.

Is any of this correct? Who knows! Improv is closer to art than science and I’m certainly not a scientist (to steal a phrase from Dan Carlin, I’m simply a fan of science).

That having been said, subjectively, this feels like a satisfying explanation. Having been both on stage and in the crowd for more improv shows than I can count, this feels about right. Sure, the mango thing was a bit of a detour, and yeah I probably could have found some way to stretch the neurological sleight of hand thing to get to the phrase “smoke and mirror neurons,” but other than that? It feels about right.

Strangers Laugh Uncontrollably Together

Lachen in der U-Bahn, Ja!

“In addition to research investigating brain regions  involved in the comprehension and enjoyment of jokes, some fMRI studies have  looked at brain areas that are activated by the sound of laughter. Provine (2000) suggested that

the contagiousness of laughter might be due to a hypothetical center in the brain that responds  selectively to the distinct sounds of laughter, inducing feelings of mirth and causing the listener to laugh in turn.

Gervais and Wilson (2005) suggested that this  laughter-response center may  consist of specialized mirror neurons,

a type of neuron that is active not only when the individual is performing a particular behaviour, but also when observing someone else perform the same behaviour (Rizzolatti and Craighero, 2004). Research has shown that certain mirror neurons also respond to the perception of emotions in others, including an empathic response in the observer.

An fMRI study by Kerstin Sander and Henning Scheich (2001) found that listening both  to laughter and to crying elicited strong activation in the amygdala, part of the limbic system which, as we have seen, is an important center of emotion processing that is activated by humor. A more recent fMRI investigation compared the brain areas that were active when participants listened either to laughter, speech or non vocal sounds (M.Meyer et al, 2005). While both speech and laughter  produced activation in auditory processing regions of the temporal lobes, the activation was stronger in the right hemisphere with laughter and in the left hemisphere with speech. Thus, the right hemisphere may be more strongly involved in responses to laughter if not to humor.

This study also found that hearing laughter activated a section of the motor area  in the right frontal lobe that has previously been implicated in the vocal expression of laughter, providing further evidence for

A CLOSE LINK BETWEEN LAUGHTER RECEPTION AND EXPRESSION MECHANISMS.

Further  research is needed to determine whether any of these areas can be identified as the laughter-mirroring centering hypothesized by Provine (2000) and by Gervais and Wilson (2005).”

The Psychology of Humor: an integrative approach. By Rod A.Martin (2006:184)

How come whenever there’s a scifi story with a mixed human and alien crew serving together, it’s always the aliens that pick up human body language and hand gestures? Just once I’d like to read “Gunnery-Segeant Thompson turned and retched the last contents of his meal on the deck plating, a gesture of agreement and approval he had picked up from association with his Skraaaw’haka crewmates.”

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RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilisation

The Signs as Ziam™ iconic hoeness

Aquarius (Jan 20 - Feb 18)

Nothing special, just leaving fondle touches with my dainty fingers on his triceps while I sensually whisper in my man’s his ear.

Pisces (Feb 19 - Mar 20)

What a better way to celebrate an award than pecking ya man in the lips while your bandmates cover it?

Aries (Mar 21 - Apr 19)

We all now you do, of course you do, look at your face, frowning because of how deep is your love for your husband.

Taurus ( Apr 20 - May 20)

May we never get over this fine and glorious moment.

Gemini (May 21 - Jun 20)

Shimmying ma man real smooth.

Cancer (Jun 21 - Jul 22)

I very much dare you to look me in the eyes and deny this. There was no other person with blue toothpaste in the room, the trail is the same. F*ck

Leo  (Jul 23 - Aug 22)

Zayn’s so used to his antics he doesn’t even bother. He was even watching TV leisurely.

Virgo (Aug 23 - Sept 22)

Bachata is their thing, I’m sure. Look how coordinated they are, look how Zayn and his Shakira moves are bringing Liam to the yard.

Libra (Sept 23 - Oct 22)

That was a kiss too. Zayn fucking new when the lights were gonna go off. Louis knew too. Liam was in for a surprise.

Scorpio (Oct 23 - Nov 21)

The infamous stare. This is the epitome of mirror neurons, they fucking stare at each other and smile so enamored spring has bloomed again.

Sagittarius (Nov 22 - Dec 21)

#Proud husband #Proud Smile #’This ball of sunshine is mine’ stare #’Can’t believe I’m this lucky’ stare

Capricorn (Dec 22 - Jan 19)

The one holding the mic is Louis, but right besides him, on the ground, is Liam; who, as you can see in the other gif, snogs his boyfriend lovingly.

Help yourself to be understood by others

The more you equip your mind with language, the better you can express your true thoughts, and so your true self as a result.

Language becomes more colorful the more attention you pay to it.

Of course a prerequisite of using language to help others know your true self, is to actually know yourself, to practice being yourself, being honest to yourself.

“Language is the dress of thought.” -Samuel Johnson

“People are afraid because they have never owned up to themselves.” -Hermann Hesse 

“Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he has been born – the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to the accumulated records of other people’s experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it bedevils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things. That which, in the language of religion, is called “this world” is the universe of reduced awareness, expressed, and, as it were, petrified by language.“ -Aldous Huxley -The Doors of Perception

Monkey See, Monkey Do? The Role of Mirror Neurons in Human Behavior

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2011) — We are all familiar with the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” – but have we actually thought about what it means? Over the last two decades, neuroscience research has been investigating whether this popular saying has a real basis in human behavior.

Over twenty years ago, a team of scientists, led by Giacomo Rizzolatti at the University of Parma, discovered special brain cells, called mirror neurons, in monkeys. These cells appeared to be activated both when the monkey did something itself and when the monkey simply watched another monkey do the same thing.

The function of such mirror neurons in humans has since become a hot topic. In the latest issue ofPerspectives on Psychological Science, a team of distinguished researchers debate whether the mirror neuron system is involved in such diverse processes as understanding speech, understanding the meaning of other people’s actions, and understanding other people’s minds.

Understanding Speech

The mirror neuron system probably plays some role in how we understand other people’s speech, but it’s likely that this role is much smaller than has been previously claimed. In fact, the role is small enough that it’s unlikely that mirror neurons would be causal factors in our ability to understand speech. Mirror neuron-related processes may only contribute to understanding what another person is trying to say if the room is very noisy or there are other complications to normal speech perception conditions.

Understanding Actions

Mirror neurons are believed to play a critical role in how and why we understand other people’s actions. There are many physical actions, like Tiger Woods’ golf swing, that we ourselves can’t do, but we understand those actions anyway. However, contrary to what some mirror neuron proponents have suggested, doing isn’t required for understanding. In fact, neuroimaging data reviewed in this article demonstrate that the actions we ourselves have the most experience doing – the actions we are best at doing and understand best – actually show less mirror neuron activity. Such findings suggest a need to reappraise the role of mirror neurons in guiding how we understand actions.

Understanding Minds

One of the most powerful roles suggested for the mirror neuron system in humans is that of understanding not just other people’s physical actions or speech, but their minds and their intentions. It has been suggested that some persons, such as persons with autism, have difficulty understanding other people’s minds and, therefore, might lack mirror neurons. However, numerous research studies reviewed in this article consistently show that persons with autism are highly capable of understanding the intentions of other people’s actions, suggesting that our intuitions about persons with autism and mirror neurons needs to be revised.

This article presents some of the toughest questions asked about mirror neurons to date. The answers to those questions, guided by hundreds of research studies, clarify the limits of the function of mirror neurons in humans.

phancy-phandom  asked:

It's called mirroring! It's a real thing in psychology. The more people imitate and emulate someone's actions the easier it is for them to connect and relate to them. They are groups of neurons called "mirror neurons" that activate when someone is doing something while observing someone else doing the same thing. They are integral to learning and go hand in hand with love. (I.e. Dan and Phil picking up traits from eachother)

Yeah, I’ve read about this and Dan and Phil constantly do this. Like if someone has noticed this pay attention the next time you watch a gaming video. If one of them like starts to sing, the other immediately will too. They tend to lean forward and back together and a lot of different little things like this.

Humans aren’t *that* special

So I’ve been really enjoying a lot of the “humans are space orcs”/”humans are space cat memes”/”earth is space australia” kind of stuff going around, but a lot of it falls a little flat for me because it takes characteristics that we share with literally everyone on our planet, like things that ants do and mice do and platypi do and whatever, and speculates, “but what if not one single alien sapient race did that thing?”

Some of it is really, really legit. Like music. There are no other mammals that respond to music like we do. I’m not sure birds respond to music the same way we do (although given that songbirds tweet for territory, I think sapient songbirds would really appreciate a lot of the hip-hop oeuvre, especially the stuff about “I am fucking awesome and you are a piece of shit” kind of thing). Or throwing objects. Nothing on Earth throws objects like a human. But stuff like… superstition? That’s a function of our incredible pattern matching engine, and all intelligent species on Earth carry something like it (we see it in other animals with avoidance of harmless objects that were previously associated with something unpleasant. Superstition is operant conditioning carried verbally.) Fiction? How do you predict the future without the ability to run “what if” scenarios in your head, and how do you interact socially without mirror neurons to tell you what others of your kind would feel, and why are you sapient if you can’t interact socially? It’s only a useful trait for social species. I can believe humans are the best at it, but not that we’re the only ones who ever came up with it.

For my own fiction, I think I’d like to nail down what traits I believe, based on evolutionary biology, are probably necessary to all sapient species, and which ones could be unique to humans. For example: love. I believe that all sapient species must be capable of love, though they do not necessarily need to be able to extend it outside their species and they do not necessarily need to employ it in mating. But all evolved sapient beings, by definition, must have far, far more that they need to be taught than that they can have pre-programmed by instinct, so all will be relatively helpless in comparison to adult forms when they’re born and need to learn, so all need to have parents who desire to protect them, teach them, and not eat the little shits even though they’re annoying and time-consuming to deal with. All species must have some concept of parental love, and from our experiences on Earth it seems that the closer to sapient you are, the more you extend emotions out from one very specific circumstance to cover multiple circumstances. Also, sapient species have to be social, so they must all have the concept of friends and allies, and that implies, if not love, at least liking and enjoying the company of your own kind somewhat. There doesn’t need to be romantic love, but love, as a concept, must exist.

(If your sapient species was created rather than being evolved, then a lot of base assumptions about what a sapient species must have don’t apply; you could have a robot society without love. But who would want to build that if they themselves are capable of love?)

I also… don’t really like the concept that humans are the only special ones. Most of this is backlash against “humans are the generic and have no special talents specific to their species” style of SF/fantasy worldbuilding, and I hate that too, but the alternative isn’t “no one has anything special but humans”, it’s “everyone has something special, including humans.” So if humans are the “hold my beer” species then someone else is the “over-analyze everything” species and someone else is the “do what the ancestors would have done” species and so forth. 

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Brilliant man. Great talk. Check out A Tell-Tale Brain. It’s really great! 

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Mirroring is the subconscious replication of another person’s nonverbal signals. This concept takes place in everyday interactions, and often goes unnoticed (…) The activation of mirror neurons takes place within the individual who begins to mirror another’s movements, and allows them a greater connection and understanding with the individual who they are mirroring, as well as allowing the individual who is being mirrored to feel a stronger connection with the other individual.”