Research by neurologists in UCLA proved that when we watch other people engaged in action, neurons associated with the muscle group used by the active party will begin to fire in our own body. The observer’s neurons “mirror” what is observed in others.
I remember watching The Pianist at a crowded theatre in 2002. At the end of the film, Wladyslaw Szpilman portrayed by Adrien Brody, played Chopin’s Grande Polonaise. When the camera closed in tight for an extended shot of his hands moving over the piano keyboard, the same neuron groups firing in the pianist were likewise activated in the theatre patrons. At the end of the film, the audience remained seated and staring at the screen in silence, perhaps emotionally exhausted like me. Throughout the film as we’d witnessed actors’ sorrowful looks or weeping on screen, the same neuron groups associated with these facial expressions were also activated in us. What’s more, our emotional neurons connected to those feelings also spark. Visual and auditory cues kickstart these empathetic neurons.Continue reading “Mindfully Watching and Listening”