Read My Mind

Mind reading. It seems fantastical, but it may be true. A team of Italian neurophysiologists have discovered so called "mirror" neurons in the brain which seem to be firing in sympathy, reflecting or perhaps simulating the actions of other people. For instance, if I were to slap myself in the face, a certain set of neurons in my brain would be firing in order to make this act of stupidity happen. And if you happen to witness my moronic act, the very same set of neurons will fire in your brain (though you won't be slapping yourself silly). This discovery could go a long way in explaining things like why people are so damn imitative, how we developed language, and also why people can instantly understand how you are feeling just by observing your actions. Some people are referring to this as "mind reading", but it seems to be acting more like an advanced simulation to me. Basically, when I observe someone doing something, my brain instinctively simulates the action (by firing the appropriate neurons) and makes conclusions based on what happens. Though it may not be mind reading, it is certainly a big step forward for psychologists.

An interesting side note regarding mind reading. Some people believe we have an innate but repressed form of mind reading that sometimes surfaces in the form of "intuition" or even physical illness when faced with danger. The human brain only operates at somewhere around 10-20% efficiency, with occasional jumps to 25-30% (which is usually referred to as intuition or revelation and is associated with a possible decline in physical health). For instance, take this entry found in Wierd but True:
"train wrecks: in train wrecks the number of passengers in damaged cars is less than average by so much and so often that it cannot be a chance occurrence. somehow we know not to get on them. (work done by william cox and reported by lyall watson)"
I've heard of similar statistics referring to airplanes as well. Many planes that crash are only half full; people who didn't get on the plane just had a "bad feeling" about it or actually got sick and were unable to fly. What are our brains really capable of?