The Neurobiology of Empathy: The Magic of the Mirror

The first research regarding the nature and neurological source of empathy was done by Giacomo Rizzolatti and his colleagues in the early 1990s in Parma, Italy. Using monkeys as subjects and physical probes to the brain as data gatherers, they discovered that the same neurons were activated when a subject monkey performed a certain task himself and when he merely watched another monkey doing the same task. It seemed that the brain of the watching monkey was mirroring that of the doing monkey.

The implications were profound. It seemed that imitation of others was the default way of learning. For baby mammals, including humans, this seems natural. If the mother smiles at the baby, the baby eventually ...

Get Leading Out Loud: A Guide for Engaging Others in Creating the Future, 3rd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.