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Mirror Neurons: See No Evil

The Bible tells us a lot about ourselves, but who would have ever thought that we would be given an understanding of the human brain? In this article, we will discuss the Mirror Neuron and show where the Bible might actually be describing this incredible function.

Mirror Neuron Discovery

In the late 1980s, Italian Neurophysiologists were studying the brain of a Macaque monkey. They wanted to map the regions of the brain that were responsible for primitive motor skills, such as the act of feeding oneself, stacking blocks, hammering, etc.

Their research, although initially it was rejected by Nature, lead to the discovery of the Mirror Neuron. The discovery of the Mirror Neuron has had a great impact on “neuroscience” and a range of disciplines “from social sciences to esthetics.” [1]

Empirical evidence showed that the neurons in the “ventral premotor cortex (area F5)” region of the Macaque monkey’s brain discharged “when the monkey performed a certain motor act”, and “when it [monkey] observed another individual (monkey or human) performing that or a similar motor act” [1] Which is to say, “Monkey see, Monkey internalize.”

Moreover, there are neurons in area F5 that “discharge depending on whether the motor act is performed within or outside the monkey’s peripersonal space” [1] which suggests that the brain has a sense of reality and that it was designed to mechanically process it.

Further research shows that the Mirror Neuron can also be found in birds. [1]

Human Mirror Neuron Theory

Scientists believe that the Mirror Neuron may be responsible for a range of functions found in Humans, such as “Empathy, Language, Self Awareness, Motor Mimicry” [2] The Mirror Neurons in our brain allow us to re-experience (chemically) the actions of others. Which means that in order for your brain to accurately simulate the action it must first experience it.

This would suggest that the brain is encoded and that this code is preserved statically by the Mirror Neuron and later becomes a response mechanism. So, as we experience the world, we store these experiences and these experiences can be relived (internally) by sight.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging suggests that Humans have Mirror Neurons. A series of tests showed that Humans contain Mirror Neurons in special regions of the brain that allow Humans to personalize concepts such as emotion, motive, and intent in others. [2]

Recent Criticism: “Two Populations” Hypothesis

In the article Mirror neurons: from discovery to autism the author said “recently some articles appeared expressing a curious “anti-mirror” stance.” He continues by saying:

“Their main argument is the following: action observation activates in humans, as in the monkeys, parietal and motor areas, but the properties of the activated neurons are different in the two species. While in monkeys the activated neurons are mirror neurons, this is not so in humans. In humans, motor areas are endowed with two distinct populations of neurons: one merely sensory, the other merely motor. The two populations do not communicate one with another. Hence the mirror neurons do not exist in humans.

It was also claimed that, in order to prove “really” the existence of mirror neurons in humans, one has to show that they present the “repetition suppression”, that is that they decrease their response not only following repetitive observation of the same motor act done by another, but also, crucially, following visual presentation of a motor act after its execution. If mirror neurons do exist, they should habituate in this cross-modal test.”

However, the author (Giacomo Rizzolatti) finds this argument to be absurd saying “the “two populations” hypothesis is very shaky.” and that “the most recent data using this technique show cross-modal adaptation and clearly prove the mirror neuron existence.”

Possible Biblical Connection

One possible reference to the Mirror Neuron can be found in the book of Matthew chapter 5 verse 27 to 28, where we see Jesus is recorded to have said the following:

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

How is it possible to commit adultery without actually committing adultery? Well, it turns out that one possible explanation is the Mirror Neuron, because it allows us to simulate internally (heart) the things that we observe as if we are actually doing those things ourselves.

Apparently, Jesus was not speaking symbolically when He made that statement. Instead He was speaking quite literally, based on the evidence. From a biological perspective, technically one would be guilty of adultery, even if committed only in the imagination, because the same neurons could discharge and the physical act could then be simulated internally.


1. Rizzolatti, Giacomo. “Mirror neurons: from discovery to autism .” Experimental Brain Research. 200. (2009): 223-27. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.springerlink.com/content/ru581585v7883515>.
2. “Mirror Neuron” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 19 Jan 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron>

Categories: Discussion
  1. John T.
    February 6, 2012 at 9:50 pm


    I wonder how many people think of different scenarios for what ever reason, say could be “you want to do harm to a bad (paying (?)) client”, “want to kill someone for a real bad experience” or even innocent fantasying

    I heard when I was a kid the thought is as bad as the deed. This may well be true, but then the realm of the private mind it seems is not your own. I wonder?

    And if the above is true, then you can bet (in the mind at least) we most of us are all sinners.
    That’s my interpretation, however I might be wrong to.

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Good observation! I think you hit the nail on the head. Our thoughts do play a major role in how we feel. Our thoughts can cause stress and effect us in a negative way. They can also be used to enhance our souls by thinking positively.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. February 6, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Hey, this is quite a weird coincidence because I have just read a book talking about this exact same type of thing.

    It is said that thoughts are actually things or become manifested into reality- which connects with what you said on “Which means that in order for your brain to accurately simulate the action it must first experience it.”

    It’s also interesting that there are many sources that say similar things like this in a slightly different way which might mean that its not getting re-purposed from a possible source without much credibility.

    • February 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      But, in the case of our dreams, perhaps the brain will use the next best thing and provide the opportunity for us to fill in the blanks. For instance, if we dream about falling off of a cliff, we are still able to get a sense of what it is like, probably because we have fell before from a less severe height, so as we fall in our dreams, then our brains encode the experience.

      Therefore, we can also learn from observation. Observation could mean dreams, television, video games, real-world, etc. Anything we can see will work.

      100% agreed. This sort of information has been passed down, quite possibly from simple observation. It is if ideas are floating around and only those perceptive enough can tap into them, but who creates them? Are they created spiritually or is our minds linked?

      Now, that sounds like a good topic for next time. 😉

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