Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mirror, mirror in your brain

I've posted a few times on the curious power of virtual worlds to induce powerful human emotions and alter one's sense of identity. Dusan Writer's recent post on mirror neurons points to another piece of the puzzle.

Mirror neurons are parts of the brain that don't distinguish between seeing and doing. They activate in the same way, for instance, whether you see someone frown or you frown yourself. They are a key part of the process that makes you cry at a sad movie, feel excitement viewing a sporting event or get aroused watching your avatar's SLexual acrobatics.
In this model, information about intentional agents arrives in the first person plural: without distinction or inference between self and other. Suslan L Hurley
I think this also implies that there's no distinction or inference between one's human self and one's virtual self. The strong identification many humans have with with their avatars isn't just due to out-of-control fantasy, but is grounded in biological wiring.

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