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Described as a "Timothy Leary for the viral video age," Jason Silva is a self-proclaimed "wonder junkie" whose series of noncommercial videos exploring inspiration, science, technology, and imaginationóhave been seen more than 2 million times online. The super villain you just captured was able to start her secret lair’s self-destruct sequence before you entered the room. Ordinary intuition leads most people to choose the flashing red button to avert certain doom. Studies have shown that between 60-70 percent of the general population is susceptible to contagious yawning. When you really like someone, you may subconsciously begin to match their breathing, eye movements, and voice tempo.
Everyone thinks they’re unique and independent, but how much of your behavior is based on how much your brain is copying from people around you?
In a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B in 2011, University College London researchers set out to find the answer. We all like to think of ourselves as individuals who think and act as we choose, based upon our own free will.
We start paying attention to other people and being influenced by what they do at an early age.
Gaze-following is so important to humans, apparently, that our brains and visual systems seem to have two systems for doing it. When the researchers scanned subjects’ brains, they discovered that mimicry involves the medial prefrontal cortex, an area associated with planning complex behavior, making decisions and responding to social situations. Our capacity to imitate others and follow the leader has come in handy throughout human existence, dating back to the days when our primitive ancestors lived in small packs and depended upon cooperation to hunt, forage, and fight off intruders and predators. Conscious imitation also plays an important role in learning ritualistic behavior that gives us a sense of belonging to a particular social group. As adults, that ability to mirror behavior can be a useful tool for making the connections necessary to get ahead in life. Social scientists have discovered a phenomenon called informational social influence, which in which people rely upon others to determine their course of action.
In the Brain Games episode "Follow the Leader," you learned that you are hard-wired to mimic gaze, gestures and even patterns of speech.
There was one that really freaked me out by making you think you were looking at two different shades of gray but in reality it was the same shade of gray separated by a shadow.


We have been conditioned to view red objects as important items that demand attention, so red buttons are typically assigned important functions.
Mirror neurons in your brain encode the actions of others to help you understand how they feel. They discovered that when they blindfolded both subjects in rock-paper-scissors games, the win-lose-tie proportion was exactly as probability would have it.
Children as young as six months old, if they see another person looking at a particular object or in a certain direction, usually will follow that person’s eyes. The researchers found that when subjects were asked to copy an actress’s hand gestures, they did it more quickly when she was looking directly at them. Interestingly, these areas are less responsive in people who suffer from autistic spectrum disorders, who have difficulty fitting in with others’ behavior in social situations.
When you see another person yawning, for example, you’ll feel the urge to yawn as well. Some researchers have hypothesized that automatic imitation is caused by mirror neurons, special cells programmed to understand others’ actions and imitate what we see.
Imitation also seems to play a role in the development of empathy and morality, key qualities that help us to cooperate with one another and live and work together.
In a study published in 2013 in the online journal Cognition, University of Texas at Austin researchers had preschool-age children watch videos of two people performing the same actions simultaneously. A 2013 Forbes magazine article, for example, advises job seekers to subtly imitate the behaviors of a prospective employer during an interview. While looking to other people can help ease fears or erase doubts, the choice that you make may not always be the best one for you. You can utilize mirroring in order to form connections with other people, and to persuade them to give you things that you want. It was a ton of fun and if you watched the entire show you surely saw some mind bending videos.
Host Jason Silva gets inside your head and show you whatís going on in there, with an intricate series of interactive experiments designed to mess with your mind and reveal the inner-workings of your brain. You’re continually playing a game of "monkey see, monkey do," in which many of your perceptions and actions, from your mood to your physical movements, are actually the result of your innate tendency to get in sync with others by mirroring their behavior. In this article, we’ll look at the neuroscience behind our copycat tendencies, and tell you more about how mirroring subtly shapes your existence in ways large and small.


This phenomenon is called deictic gaze, and it’s found not only in humans, but in other primates and dogs as well. Your perception of another person’s yawn triggers a reflexive behavior in an area called the medulla oblongata, the lower half of your brain stem, which regulates automatic functions such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. In a 1992 study involving macaque monkeys, Italian researchers found that the mirror neurons fired both when the monkeys completed an action and when they observed another monkey doing it.
In a 2004 study published in Psychological Science, Concordia University researcher David Forman found that young children who enthusiastically imitated their parents developed a sense of right and wrong earlier than those who didn’t. The children were able to imitate the behavior with a higher degree of accuracy when the video was preceded by an explanation that the action was something that a group did, as opposed to something that they should do to achieve an individual goal. In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013, for example, Duke University researchers found that players in an arcade game will synchronize with and imitate slower opponents, even if it interferes with their ability to win a money prize. Some scientists suspect that this adaptation was favored by evolution, because it enables us to point out prey or predators inconspicuously, without alerting the subject of the attention. That system is integrated with other parts of the brain that help us to recognize faces and scrutinize and process information gleaned from other people’s expressions. Some researchers believe that contagious yawning evolved because it was useful for early humans to go to sleep at the same time and synchronize to a common schedule.
Forbes even suggests that interviewees also should listen carefully to the language used by an interviewer, and try to replicate the phrasing, language and sentence structure.
Instead, wait for 30 to 50 seconds before imitating a physical gesture, or slightly modify the gesture so that it’s similar but not precisely identical to what the interviewer did. Put your arm across this spot and you will see you are actually looking at the same color it is just an illusion! But scientists believe that deictic gaze also helped humans to develop more sophisticated social skills, because it enabled them to anticipate what actions other people were about to take, and identify to whom facial expressions were directed. This was one of the first things you saw on the National Geographic Channel show Brain Games.
The success of mirroring depends on mirroring the right people at the right time for the right reasons.



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