Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it.
Ramachandran and others have used these simple experiments to explore how the human brain perceives body image, and to learn more about phantom limb pain. Try these experiments yourself!
The Pinocchio Experiment: http://www.youramazingbrain.org/supersenses/body.htm#Pinocchio
The Rubber Arm Experiment: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/24/need-an-extra-hand/
Learn more about Ramachandran’s work with phantom limb patients by visiting the following web sites:
BBC: What phantom limbs and mirrors teach us about the brain (12/05/2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15938103
PBS NOVA: From Ramachandran’s Notebook http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/phantom-limb-cases.html
UC San Diego Center for Brain and Cognition http://cbc.ucsd.edu/
Association for Psychological ScienceObserver: Reflections on Mirror Neurons (03/2011) http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2011/march-11/reflections-on-mirror-neurons.html
PBS NOVA scienceNOW: Mirror Neurons http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/mirror-neurons.html