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The neurons that shaped civilization | VS Ramachandran

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http://www.ted.com Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on TED.com, at http://www.ted.com/translate. Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/top10
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Text Comments (259)
Sanjeev Kumar (5 months ago)
Jeshe hindi main taldatm kahte hai.. jo movies videos dekh accha feeling atta hai
Giorgios Culofakis (9 months ago)
This theory about mirror neurons has been debunked.
Kyran K. (1 year ago)
Imagine how he pronounces his own name
doruk tuksal (1 year ago)
U4RIA - Coolguy8623 (1 year ago)
...learn the matrix
United Europe (1 year ago)
This is why I cringe when some embarrasses himself.
Guillaume Rusengo (1 year ago)
I wonder what this means in human differentiating in race, Culture, community, religion,...
danilko paskudnik (1 year ago)
check out big brain on mr ramachandran
Maax Gregoire (2 years ago)
ici, la version sous-titrée française https://www.ted.com/talks/vs_ramachandran_the_neurons_that_shaped_civilization/transcript?language=fr#t-6712
Liberal Thamizhan (2 years ago)
If i see anyone getting kicked in the private part immediately I feel a kind of pain and this sends spine chilling experience to my brain. I did not know what the reason is now I know. Mirror Neurons. Vera Level TedTalk. Thanks VS Ramachandran Sir.
Veruca Salt (2 years ago)
Humor de cor (2 years ago)
bebo91 body (2 years ago)
comment on the ad at the end on Stockholm congestion charge. rich can kill the planet, poor are forced of the road to save it, yh great system of equality you got going over there. the people who voted for it are the ones who can afford to pay the charge
Austin Gallaher (3 years ago)
There has been a great deal of ungrounded speculation about mirror neurons. Ramachandran has been at the head of the parade; however he has actually never done any research in this area. At least none that is regarded as credible by other scientists. For anyone who is interested in sorting out the science from the science fiction regarding mirror neurons they should read The Myth of Mirror Neurons (2014) by Greg Hickok.
arvind patil (3 years ago)
a greate talk in understanding human brain soon i shall rtranscript it to MARATHI
misssweethearted (3 years ago)
He's a professor at UCSD I saw him a couple of times on campus he was always surrounded by students talking to him.
Eric Landrum (2 years ago)
Misssweethearted is kinda right about UCSD sucking, the students there are generally lacking any intellectual bravery. I actually worked with Rama for years and am still close with him. He chose UCSD for a few reasons: he liked the weather, the Salk institute (which is across the street from his office) is awesome, Francis Crick worked at the Salk, the UCSD School of Medicine had an emerging neuroscience program, and they pretty much gave him Carte Blanche to do what ever he wants. They also don't make him teach a ton and let him have as many students as he can support. Since he joined UCSD, both their psych and neuroscience departments have actually out ranked Harvard and are consistently in the top 3 in the nation. That said, he is only one perspective and there are a ton of other equally amazing scientists with interesting view points who aren't as good of speakers as Rama. Delve in!!!
Anguel Roumenov Bogoev (3 years ago)
+misssweethearted Why's it not pleasant? I used to live nearby and have a lot of friends who graduated there from the engineering school. One is doing his doctorate in maths. None of them complained.
misssweethearted (3 years ago)
wow congrats dude. Good thing you didn't go to UCSD...it's not a pleasant school. Rama could be at a far better institution like Harvard. He truly is a genius I agree with you. You will follow into his footsteps. 
Nick (3 years ago)
+misssweethearted This guy is a legend in the neuroscience community, seriously, I get my PhD in behavioral neuroscience on August 28th assuming I present my dissertation well, I've met Rama once, he's INSANELY smart, like genuinely the Einstein of neuroscience and neurology. He was the inspiration for me to go into the field, I'll be graduating from the 3rd best Behavioral neuroscience grad school at the age of 23 because of his inspiration(yes that is very young), the second best by a small almost negligible margin is MIT, at least in this field, but the first place is miles and miles and miles ahead, and it's UCSD, I'd have gone there but Uni of MIchigan is a lot closer to me and I liked the idea it's the OLDEST neuroscience graduate program. Thanks Rama.
Tim Piotrowicz (3 years ago)
he rolls every single 'r' that he says
Syncopator (4 years ago)
How do we know the neuron isn't firing in response to both your own action and the other persons action because it's percieving both actions as essentially the same-- he suggests here that it fires to *cause* your action but in *response* to someone elses action.   But what is that conclusion based on?   Perhaps in both cases the neuron is firing in *response* to the action, regardless of whether or not you or someone else does it? Extraordinary claims and all that...
Jivan R. (1 year ago)
Syncopator Look up di Pellegrino et al. 1992 on observational learning
DasEnigma (4 years ago)
I love when spirituality and science come together as one.
Blitz B (3 months ago)
It didn't become one, all he said was that it is due to the mirror neurons one is able to feel when other person is being touched(Under the appropriate conditions of course). This just reassures that there is no "spiritual" stuff involved, just plain old neurons firing.
Prathap Sankar (7 months ago)
sanch Sanchayan (1 year ago)
Spirituality and science were always together until Religion came.
reda belabed (4 years ago)
Great information :)
Amanda Kolvitz (4 years ago)
Notice he also does not give specific evidence or studies to support this claim, further research would show you there actually is no proof out there that mirror neurons have a direct connection to culture and the creating civilization. http://www.wired.com/2013/12/a-calm-look-at-the-most-hyped-concept-in-neuroscience-mirror-neurons/
dabetswe (3 years ago)
+Amanda Kolvitz For an 8 min talk, it will be hard to give all the resources. He did mention studies that had been done even if not by specific names and he started the talk with saying electrodes were placed on different parts of brain to see the nerve cell activities, and the Italian researchers found the mirror neurons. I think that's good enough reference for an 8 min talk. Wired article gave good things to think about but media always hype up everything, not just mirror neurons (such as dissociative identity disorders, autism and vaccinations, ADHD cases, etc.) without really doing good research on the actual studies done and simplify it. The speaker also mentioned that you have to see something to have mirror neuron activated, so there is a condition for these activation, and there are feedback system (the skin and pain receptors) that mediate the activation of mirror neurons. AS to connection to culture and civilization, he said he "claims" not that he has proven it. It is a theory or hypothesis, which in science, always takes repeated studies to confirm or dismiss it. This is such new discovery that there isn't enough studies to confirm it yet. I don't think he said having mirror neurons created culture, but that it was a catalyst for culture and civilization because it allowed for the ability for any new technique and skill to be learned and passed through the population much faster so that it won't die away in isolation. So no, the mirror neuron doesn't make someone civilized or creative with culture, but it is the medium through which such created culture and civilization spreads.
Justin Berrings (5 years ago)
What Jimi Hendrix is to Rock Music, V S Ramachandran is to Neuroscience.-- original, mesmerizing, and stylish.  
Sultan Alotaibi (5 years ago)
Guys I have a question if there is really a connection among humans so why blind people do not feel this connection? . You will say because they can't focus on someone else if they can't see, but they actually can focus by hearing so why they can't share this ability with others. What I think is this just an emotional feeling. I'm sorry if I'm wrong. However I'm not a scientist but I don't believe in anything without analysing it.
Kuldeep Arora (5 years ago)
He clearly said one needs to look at the other person. How do you imitate or emulate without seeing?
Eleanor Wong (5 years ago)
explained beautifully in 8minutes
snugglycore (5 years ago)
i love this man's "rr"-s
Ozzy (5 years ago)
I love ram.. one of the brightest around.
Vincent Pender (5 years ago)
How do I get my hands on this research!!!
420SanJuan (5 years ago)
i learned about traffic solutions from smart scandinavians :)
Mannypacquia0 (5 years ago)
lol jesus christ, his accent made things much better.
harveyv187 (5 years ago)
how far will the mirror neurons detect another person, feet? miles? does walls or other materials interfere? Will it detect my brother from another country and if it doesn't will lets say a phone call let my neurons virtual simulate his point of view?
mavishill (5 years ago)
this explains why people watch porn! merely watch someone else having sex, fires neurons in your brain which would also fire when u have sex. of'course, because you're not part of that act physically, sadly you have to use your one hand to stimulate or simulate the throbbing genitals. interesting.
Swati Narasimhan (5 years ago)
The Talented Mr. Ripley :)
john Smith (6 years ago)
Well, there are some things he doesn't mention: those electrodes were implanted in primates and birds, not humans. So why didn't they make the great leap forward? And as far as I know, only in 21 epilepsy patients who had electrodes for other purposes, a small number of MNs were found. Most of the books and articles about MNs are based on fMRI studies, or on pure speculation. There's doubt that fMRI show MN at all, one datapoint is > million neurons. But it sells books....
Aaron Ali (2 months ago)
party pooper !
Primeiro Último (6 years ago)
you ma hero zoth
lil whisperr (6 years ago)
check out his book the tell tale brain. goes into depth about this, the phantom limbs, and even how autism is caused by damage to mirror neurons. great read
Hollis Devillo (6 years ago)
What a wild accent this guy has, the first syllable 'r' is rolled,and the middle and ending 'r' is American.
InformationCompiler (6 years ago)
Most of the TED talks take place at conventions, and there are many people slated to speak on a given day. So you must make your point concisely, and then get off the stage for the next person.
Jonny Curtis (6 years ago)
i love how he rolls his rs
Marcoshay (6 years ago)
It is so difficult to understand what this guy is saying sometimes.
Chi (6 years ago)
Why do many TED talks end so abruptly?
skeletonboi (1 year ago)
TED talks aren't meant to be full-scaled talks. They are just a brief message that are meant to intrigue or make people think. Longer talks are typically hosted at Universities or Colleges; look up some that are close to you, and take a look at what talk schedules are available. Cheers
juuornellas (6 years ago)
WOW!!!!! Just loved it!!
Olaf Klischat (6 years ago)
Nice talk, but needs independent confirmation. I can't help but think that this guy has fudged some of his data to get such "nice" results. And he may overinterpret observations, especially when he talks about eastern philosophy and "connected neurons". And you can feel the other person's touch in your numbed arm? Why would the brain equate the total absence of signale from a numbed arm with an actual touch sensation signal?
Yakko12345 (6 years ago)
Oh man, that was around '99. I forget the exact cognitive psychology course now.
wertq1111 (6 years ago)
Why was there that thing about traffic at the end...?
agastya13rao (6 years ago)
So someone who has lost an arm will feel its loss again and again whenever he sees someone else losing it.. and the one fortunate enough to have his/her arm intact is incapable of feeling the pain of the one who lost it. The irony.
sylve6 (6 years ago)
IBM is cool they actually invent tattoo numbers for Nazi prisoners as a service for Hitler and now in the city can drive only those who can afford that for rich is nothing and it keeps away poor people + full control who is in ore out ....
SSSyndrome214 (6 years ago)
Well the brain's anatomical and physiological blueprint (including these mirror neurons) is mapped out from the structure of animals' DNA. Differences in DNA lead to differences in the structure and function of the brain, including a lack of these mirror neurons which Ramachandran thinks could be the cause of autism. DNA designs these mirror neurons which modulate our feelings of empathy, cooperation, etc., so I guess it could be said that DNA ultimately controls them, although not in real-time.
Iplywittrees (7 years ago)
I listened to another TED talk that claimed empathy, cooperation, and other sociological interactions (theory of the mind) are in mammals' dna. I don't know anything, but some of the things he said could come from these higher-level dna functions that were created well before us.
omma911 (7 years ago)
Sooo good! Maybe that's how porn works on male humans. I wonder if we could maximize the pleasure by stunning our shlongs.
Vania Gomez (7 years ago)
So... what if i haven't experienced something and i watch someone that the "something" i haven't experienced.. will is still feel it or experience it?
Sarthak (7 years ago)
that ended way too quickly I WANT MORE!!
Rohith Basu (7 years ago)
dude, there are only 12 elementary particles in the universe we know of as of know !!
tapudy (7 years ago)
'קבלה לעם- כל הבריאה היא אחת.
Jeremy Kean (7 years ago)
@TimothyStuartRiches It's kind of like some French people I know who can't pronounce the H in "home", but add an H to words like "even" and "odd" making them "heven" and "hodd"
Jeremy Kean (7 years ago)
@3877michael Eeeeeeeh, no. No that's kind of dangerous. You are being like a troll. The anonymity of the internet has the ability to disconnect humans; make us believe that the person on the other end isn't real. That disconnect, as well as dehumanizing one another, also gives us a sense of immunity. You are dehumanizing trolls. That's the last thing you should do, ever. When you refuse to consider others as people, you cut off any empathetic connections. This is how war starts.
bigpurple100 (7 years ago)
iv got to experiment with this theory
IMbirdieful (7 years ago)
The way he rolls his 'r's drives me insane! lol
cerebralcereal (7 years ago)
damn what happened to his awesome jacke from last time
tfed1219 (7 years ago)
Gandhi neurons, so profound. No independent arising of phenomena. The correlation between neuro and contemplative traditions is so fascinating.
tfed1219 (7 years ago)
@Yakko12345 He was your lecturer?!! I'm so envious. My psychology lecturers were so uninspiring.
Ibrahim Alsaeed (7 years ago)
Aside from the facts, I think some of his speculation & interpretations is BS; even animals can immitate, so its not something that has emerged in human population. Immitating a movement is something, but understanding the significance & the purpose of the movement is something else, without recognizing & interpreting other people's action, we wouldn't be self-awared. This neurons only function in immitating a movement, it is not the reason for the ability to learn, although it makes it easier.
AllergicRants (7 years ago)
Our teacher used this in interpretation class =D It was impossible to take notes! But it is very interesting.
shoe (7 years ago)
Rollin those R's so hard
scooby dooby dylan (7 years ago)
i wonder if this results in one feeling higher empathy towards someone they resemble. or who they feel they resemble. up to clothing, way of dress and even social identity. physical and subconscious empathy could be controlled by some mathematics of bodily ego.
scooby dooby dylan (7 years ago)
@wacked0ne any enlightened person would know exactly how their body works. actually in the context of this video, an understanding of mirror neurons is the basis of any revelation. so probably someone or other involved in writing the bible knew about mirror neurons.
Tyler Werttemberger (7 years ago)
29 People's Brain hurt after watching this video.
dleddy14 (7 years ago)
Regarding the Stockholm plan, where does the money go?
dleddy14 (7 years ago)
@fasantupp That is the immediate obvious first thought lol! Scary!!
enroserie (7 years ago)
@Yakko12345 oh wow, I'm so jealous!
Michael Harrell (7 years ago)
Finally a video that explains the Trolls and Flamers on YouTube. NO empathy ! They are sub human! Now we can all feel sorry for their social retardation.
wacked0ne (7 years ago)
@andydrew105 Yep, 'cause they knew about mirror neurons when they wrote the bible.
callmemrtorture (8 years ago)
@TheAccurate1 Yeah, let's believe something clearly in the format of pseudoscience (CEC) and disregard the actual scientist. Mmhmm.
Noel (8 years ago)
@subzeroicefrost yes
Neil Rasserer (8 years ago)
Why the fuck is there a solid 3 minutes of ads at the end of the vid? lol
Paul Terrier (8 years ago)
@fasantupp you win.
andydrew105 (8 years ago)
its why for those that believe in the bible, pornography is wrong, because your brain is firing as if your having sex, that is why porn is stimulating. That is why it is adultery to God, for those that believe in God, is classified as adultery, because your watching others have sex.
andydrew105 (8 years ago)
its why for those that believe in the bible, pornography is wrong, because your brain is firing as if your having sex, that is why porn is stimulating. That is why it is adultery to God, for those that believe in God, is classified as adultery.
Sam Ann (8 years ago)
@Dropnuggets Indian
subzeroicefrost (8 years ago)
I think he's Indian, but I had a question, if that's true then do people who lose a limb or a body organ in an accident experience what they watch happen to other people's limbs and organs ?
Yakko12345 (8 years ago)
This guy was my prof at UCSD. Always an entertaining lecturer.
xNickTheBrickx (8 years ago)
Love that brogue.
Anjali Doney (8 years ago)
@jimmayl1 if the amputee has a mirror to his left side, then his right arm looks like his left arm in the reflection...and then maybe if the patient watches his right arm being squeezed in the mirror, he might feel relief in his phantom left arm. there's another vid on youtube where dr ramachandran explains this...he's treated patients using this phantom box (with a mirror).
MilitantPeaceist (8 years ago)
@GrudgyDiablo Yes it is Grudgy - It explains so much more than it asks. 8))) <3
MilitantPeaceist (8 years ago)
@ANDR3W1848 Yes!
ceejayMD Uy (8 years ago)
@jimmayl1 that would be weird because the brain would likely tell you that what u feel is in your right arm. but as he explains it, if you numb your left shoulder downwards, and see others touch their left arm you can feel the touch with the phantom arm..
Dr. Glove (8 years ago)
Say someone has an amputated left arm and the remaining right arm is squeezed. Will the left phantom arm feel anything or will there be a feedback signal from the right arm that will halt the phantom left from feeling anything?
Andrew Okehi (8 years ago)
Could this mean that human beings are a super organism like ants or bees?
Nicole Carroll (8 years ago)
Love this Guy !!! I am watching the mirror box being used in the stroke unit where my mother is . Vancouver Island , Canada .
098anne (8 years ago)
Stunning information in this talk!
geezzerboy (8 years ago)
Correction: Sorry, we have 100 billion neurons, thus ten times more glial cells equals one trillion glial cells.
geezzerboy (8 years ago)
There are ten times as many glial cells in the brain as there are neurons. The billion glial cells were long thought to be packing or padding for the neurons, since they surround each neuron, but have no electrical activity themselves. Recently it has been discovered that glial cells do communicate with each other, with a method called 'calcium surges'. Neurons comprise only one-tenth of our brain, what are the glial cells talking to each other about? The future will tell.
crocz (8 years ago)
tomaz2007 (8 years ago)
@fasantupp LOL, I'd so try that!
jonathan lorentzson (8 years ago)
Incapacitate your body from the neck and down and then watch porn?
MrExplosionFace (9 years ago)
@theshermany. I thought the same thing, scrolled down, and saw that it was the first comment. I love the internet.
geezzerboy (9 years ago)
Doesn't it seem logical that psychopaths, lacking empathy, must have mal-functioning Gandhi neurons? On the other hand, humans like Gandhi must have over-active Gandhi neurons.
shax108 (9 years ago)
So many people will take this video the wrong way.
Stephen Sherman (9 years ago)
@alokbagga I think I should. It may be a few weeks before I get or locate a copy though.
Tom Mackio (9 years ago)
I think the neuroscience is unremarkable on its own, as are the philosophical theories of collective conciousness. What I like about this is the attempt to unite the two and using science to answer traditionally philosphoical questions. The real neuroscience breakthrough, which many philosophers will argue is impossible (particularly dualists thinkers), will come at the discovery of the neural substrate of conciousness and knowing exactly how it works.
Tom Mackio (9 years ago)
@mattghtpa Load of rubbish. You might be able to find a book by someone selling crystal therapies and snake oil who says they have prood of "human concious awareness" having "physical effects on mechanical and electronic objects and devices" but you won't find any serious research that corroborates this.

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