5 Things You Should Know About Mirror Neurons

Happy new year! I hope that you all had fun, memorable and safe celebrations with family and friends, and that you’re as excited as I am for another year of amazing development and progress for our keiki!

For the first official post of 2017, I wanted to share some information on mirror neurons. The mirror neuron system is what makes it possible for children to say what they hear and do what they see. By copying body, face and speech movements, the brain learns new skills. Here are five things you should know about this amazing phenomenon that’s closely related to language and motor skills.

1.    Mirror neurons fire when we move and observe someone else’s movement. They were first discovered by scientists recording electrical impulses in single neurons of a monkey’s brain.  

2.    The mirror neuron is just one of many types of neurons, which are nerve cells that carry messages through the brain and body.

3.    The mirror neuron is an important foundation for purposeful movement and problem solving, and help a child learn speed and accuracy. The mirror neuron system links perception and movement in the brain, and helps develop language skills and understanding actions and intentions.

4.    Interesting fact: Infants associate vowels to mouth sizes by watching their parents open their mouths to different extents when they product different vowels. That’s why it’s encouraged for parents to speak often to their babies early on, so that they can grasp how language and speech sounds work.

Vision, language and action are part of an integrated, dynamic system that is tuned to body movement and to the kind of perception information that come from vision, hearing, smell, touch and balance. For example, eye movements during visually guided actions help children understand the relationship between vision, action and language. They watch and imitate people in their environment, which helps them develop motor and language skills.