I was reading the following today and I had a strange feeling, some sort of excitement. Tonight, I remembered that a lot of times, seeing a sad face makes me smile! (I have seen this in some other people too.) I have always been ashamed of this reaction, until now, but I am beginning to think about the implications of this simple observation for my childhood interactions with my caregivers (including my mom). Does this mean that she (they) used to smile and show a happy face when I was sad? Or, did she become sad when I was happy?
Our temporal lobes contain neurons dedicated to faces that are essential to our ability to relate to others. ... Both [autism and Asperger syndrome] are characterized by profound deficits in the ability to relate to others. ... reseach has demonstrated that individuals with autism process faces in an area of the right temporal lobe normally used to process objects (Schultz et al., 2000) --- p. 187, The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy
... mirror neurons ... fire both in response to an observation of a highly specific relationship between an actor and some object and when the action is performed by the observer. ...
... facial expressions, gestures, and posture of anoher will activate circuits in the observer similar to those which underlie empathy. Seeing a sad child cry makes us reflexively frown, tilt ou heads, say ``aawwhhhh,'' and feel sad too. ... mirror neurons may bridge the gap between sender and receiver, helping us understand one another and enhance the possibility of empathic attunement (Wolf, Gales, Shane, & Shane, 2000). The internal emotional associations linked to mirror circuitry are activated via ouwardly expressed gestures, posture, tone, ... Thus, our internal emotional state---generated via automatic mirroring process---can become our intuitive ``theory'' of the internal state of the other. ... ---pp. 188-189, The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy