Mirrored Learning

Monday, September 28, 2009

Did you know a new born baby will imitate you if you repeatedly stick your tongue out as the baby watches?

It is well known that children are influenced by role modeling and learn through imitation. Watching a young child with a play phone is evidence of this. It is often amusing to see how well a child acts out the actions of a parent.

Related to this, research has now found something extremely interesting happening in the brain. Recent studies have revealed something called mirror neurons. These studies show that a certain amount of mirror neurons are active both when moving… AND when just watching the movement of another person!

The following clip shows a fun example of a child imitating movements seen on a music video. Due to the discovery of mirror neurons we now know that a child watching these movements also has mimicking activity in the brain even if just watching the movements.

Even more exciting is evidence that shows mirror neurons may also be related to emotional areas in the brain. This means when a person sees another expressing an emotion the feeling areas of the brain are activated as if feeling the emotion personally. This may be the basis for developing empathy. This emphasizes how critically important it is for young children to have direct loving interactions with special people in everyday life. Through these positive experiences empathy and emotional connections can be developed.

Enjoy….. and just realize you are likely making mirror neurons activate in your brain as you watch.

Note: Of course mimicking the actions of a real person interacting with the child is preferable to brain development. Direct interaction is always better than watching television or a DVD.
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