top of page

The Neurons That Shaped Civilization


Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran




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.


I'd like to talk to you today about the human brain, which is what we do research on at the University of California. Just think about this problem for a second. Here's a lump of flesh, about three pounds, which you can hold in the palm of your. But it can contemplate the vastness of intel space. It can contemplate the meaning of infinity, ask questions about the meaning of its own existence, about the nature of God, and this is truly the most amazing thing in the world. 

It's the greatest mystery confronting human beings. How does this all come about? Well, the brain, as you know, is made up of neurons. Looking at neurons here, there are 100 billion neurons in the adult human brain, and each neuron makes something like a thousand to 10,000 contacts with other neurons in the brain.

bottom of page