Edge: SELF AWARENESS: THE LAST FRONTIER By V.S. Ramachandran
...mirror neurons fire when you merely watch another person perform a similar act. It's as if the neuron (more strictly the network of which the neuron is part) was using the visual input to do a sort of "virtual reality simulation" of the other person's actions—allowing you to empathize with her and view the world from her point of view.
Brain stuff from VS Ramachandran
Ramachandran - recent piece (Jan. 09) on what various bizarre neurological disorders might imply about the self.
Is this what Antony is saying when he writes about Epilepsy? "Now imagine these same circuits become hyperactive as sometimes happens when you have seizures originating in the temporal lobes (TLE or temporal lobe epilepsy). The result would be an intense heightening of the patient's sensory appreciation of the world and intense empathy for all beings to the extent of seeing no barriers between himself and the cosmos—the basis of religious and mystical experiences. (You lose all selfishness and become one with God.) Indeed many of history's great religious leaders have had TLE. My colleague, the late Francis Crick, has suggested that TLE patients as well as priests may have certain abnormal transmitters in their brains that he calls "theotoxins"."