Q. I’m fascinated by the topic of “mirror neurons.” Are there any books about mirror neurons and any impact on sexual behaviors?

A. Mirror neurons may help humans to learn new skills by imitation as well as to understand the actions of others. Whether or not these neurons represent an entirely distinct class is still open to discussion. They may start working quite early in life. One study in Nature Neuroscience found that during the second half of their first year, infants come to predict others’ actions and that the mirror neuron system is likely mediating this process. Emerging work on mirror neurons may put a different spin on the old proverb: By observing you become changed.

In response to your question, the book entitled The Body Has a Mind of Its Owncontains a reference to mirror neurons and sexual behaviors.The authors indicate that mirror neurons play a key role in sexual response and may even play a role in homophobias. For example, when people see sexually aroused genitals of the preferred gender (e.g., opposite gender for heterosexuals, same gender for homosexuals), the brain's mirror neurons and reward centers fire. The authors also point out that when a heterosexual male sees two other men in sexual acts, he can't help but experience it in his mind's body, even if it is at a subconscious level. For the truly heterosexual male, this is unappetizing and may make a live-and-let-live attitude more difficult to adopt.

 

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