Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Mirror Neurons and Music

Mirror Neurons and Music

Listening to music is an experience taken for granted far too often, it's a unifying, whole experience to put in headphones and venture out to - anywhere else but here. Sometimes it's a mirror, a congruent space in which you're free of participation, a distant, far, far away space, a friend, etc. - it's an empathetic, cathartic, and communal experience.

When we're watching sports and an athlete twists his/her ankle, we wince as if we too had just rolled our ankle and not sitting on our couch eating potato chips. This is because of mirror neurons, specialized neurons which fire when we see someone performing an action. According to a UCLA study, this effect is observed in people with no relevant experience to the witnessed event. All this to say, music employs mirror neurons that lead us to perceive emotions from songs. Which, isn't too surprising, we can attribute emotion to gait, breath, text, and plenty of other non-tonal dependent behaviors. Another interesting interpretation of the UCLA study is that, dancing is just an expression of those mirror neurons firing "empathizing" with the rhythm. Relative to the rubber hand example, perhaps mirror neurons play a part in simulating the experience and transferring it to an individual's body.

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