Dienstag, 2. Oktober 2012

Mirror Neurons and Vera Birkenbihl

A short time ago I started researching about the topic of mirror neurons. Mirror Neurons are neurons that fire when you perform a certain action as well as when you see someone performing this action.
The function of these neurons is not exactly clear. One theory is that they are important for learning new skills by imitation.

The mirror neurons were discovered in 1995 by an Italian research team working with macaque monkeys.

Vera Birkenbihl, a German coach and inventor of brain-friendly learning, writes how to consciously apply the mirror neurons for learning a new skill.
Mirror neurons, she claims, are active when: 
  • you watch someone performing a certain task
  • you perform this task by your own
  • you think about performing a the certain task
  • someone reminds you of this certain task
If you want to learn any skill, e.g. dancing, martial arts or meditation, you can improve just by watching experts performing the skill and keep thinking about that skill.
Maybe this theory can explain the success of the Satsang movement. Satsang means just sitting in a room together with a guru or enlightened person. Some people feel very meditative after that. Maybe seeing the skilled meditator activates similar brain regions in people who look at them.

But advertisement uses the mirror neurons for manipulating us. Every time I watch TV and see someone having a pizza in this stupid pizza ad, I become hungry. I even feel my saliva flow.
Maybe food ads make us fat? Anyway I skipped watching TV for reasons other that this.

But what about lucid dreaming?
In the German lucid dreamers community, there was a discussion about learning how to lucid dream. A very skilled lucid dreamer told about a friend of him who never practices reality checks or any LD technique but he has a lucid dream every night after they met.
Strange effect. I think about mirror neurons.
Maybe you can use this effect if you attend a lucid dreaming gatherings or watch lucid dreamers tell about their experiences on video or youtube.

But now for something completely different:
Vera Birkenbihl reports in her book  'Das neue Stroh im Kopf', unfortunately not published in english language, about a study of mental training and muscle development:
She quotes a study on leg fracture patients. They were separated into two groups. Group 1 just had their leg in plaster, group 2 had their legs in plaster as well, but they had the task to do a mental walkaway for ten minutes a day.

The results:
  1. group 2 had significantly less muscle atrophy
  2. group 2 needed 2 weeks less to recover
  3. group 2 had less impairments in their ability to move the legs after the plaster was removed.

Again something completely different:

What I really consider a strange capability of our mind is this and this.

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