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The Neurons that Shaped Civilization

The Neurons that Shaped Civilization is a ten minute video which outlines the newly discovered functions of mirror neurons. The clip, presented by Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran, highlights how the mirror neurons allows us to learn and develop complex social behaviors, some of which were discovered to be the foundations of the human civilization.

Dr. Ramachandran starts off by finding answers to some of the interesting questions we have about how our brain works. The human brain reached its current size 300,000 years ago. However, we only develop the skills to socialize, create tools, make art and even learn different language some 75,000 years ago. Dr. Ramachandran asks why it took humankind that long to develop such skills and so fast for these skills to develop once it manifested. Dr. Ramachandran suggests that at some point in humankind’s history, we achieved a critical level of capability to program the brain and from here, learned and transmit skills that are of cultural in nature. He points to the mirror neurons as the critical factor that allowed human beings to thrive as a culturally-diverse specie.

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