[percy-l] The Naked Ape's Triadic Threshold

Wade Riddick wriddick at usa.net
Fri Apr 27 18:03:10 EDT 2007

If you're interested in the evolution of language, I suggest you look at
the research on mirror neurons.  Empathy is wired into humans from a very
early age.  In conditions like autism where mirror neurons are impaired,
language ability is also impaired.

I've read a number of articles on mirror neurons in the last few years, but
since I've not had direct, severe damage to my mirror neurons, I haven't by
very rigorous in keeping track of them in my research database.  I only
have two entries on the subject, although I'm sure I've saved a number of
other articles somewhere on my drive.  I'm sure if you search for "mirror
neuron" in <http://www.sciencedaily.com> you'll get a lot of interesting


the degree of tested empathy in a person is proportional to the amount of
mirror neuron activity; it's lower in autistics; mirror neurons in people
and macaque monkeys extend to auditory types which activate when you hear
something; the sound of someone eating an apple, for instance, activates
many of the areas of the brain which would activate if you were actually
eating an apple yourself (which is why advertising works so well); hearing
sounds of eating potato chips or crumpling paper activated brain areas
associated with chewing or hand action; overlap occurred in the bilateral
temporal gyrus and superior temporal sulcus

mirror neurons in the insula register uniquely human social emotions like
guilt, shame, pride, embarrassment, disgust and lust; mirror neurons in
various brain areas are activated when someone watches someone else perform
an action and when someone performs the action themselves; some mirror
neurons activate when kicking a ball, seeing someone kick a ball or hearing
the word 'kick'; observation improves muscle performance via mirror
neurons; mirror neurons also activate in men watching other men having sex
with women, thus accounting for the vicarious thrill of pornography;
multiple mirror neurons in the human brain not only carry out actions but
understanding the actions of others - both how and why they perform them -
the social meaning of those behaviors and the emotions involved; mirror
neurons underly the acquisition of culture by children by sharing,
imitation and observation and form the basis of language, philosophy and
art; in autistics, defects in mirror neurons prevent them from feeling the
emotion they identify on another's face even though they can imitate the
facial expression; autistics don't know what it's like to feel sad, angry,
disguested or surprised from simply observing other people; in children
watching violent TV, mirror neuron involved in aggression overactivate
leading to the increased probability of violent behavior

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