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Maria Georgescu


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What is the power behind a shared experience?

In my Bioelectricity class this week, We learned that it is the low resistance pathways between the billions of myocardial cells in the heart that allow this amazing organ to beat in synchrony. We also learned that in a particular study, one subject's EKG could be measured on another person's EEG simply through touch (http://www.reiki.org/Download/electricity_of_touch1.pdf). It's incredible to think that a signal we are not consciously aware of can have a measurable impact on another person's mind and even heart.

Thinking more broadly: Who hasn't felt an urge to yawn within a few minutes of being in the presence of other yawning people? Or burst out laughing over an absurd happening that might not really have been funny? We encounter these types of shared experiences throughout our everyday lives.

Low resistance enables heart cells work together in synchrony. How can we
as species, work together taking advantage of our connected world?


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    Mar 24 2012: ???
    And how about the more visual, auditory and tactile stimuli people experience together, combined with empathy or mirror neurons as an explanation?

    I don't see how these effects have been accounted for.
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      Mar 24 2012: Hey Christophe,

      These have not been accounted for, perhaps, because they are legitimate answers to the question at hand; and this is good - thank you bringing them to my knowledge!

      I agree with you completely: the visual, auditory and tactile stimuli are all parts of a shared experience, and it is the empathy / mirror neurons that may explain the lowering of resistance between people.

      I think the TEDtalk that Maria posted (Charlie Todd: http://www.ted.com/talks/charlie_todd_the_shared_experience_of_absurdity.html) thoroughly demonstrates this.

      With the experiments demonstrated in his talk, its difficult to know whether or not people laugh because it is funny individually, or because other people are there and it becomes funny together.

      Perhaps two individuals will find it funny, but not show it - only when they acknowledge each other do their empathy / mirror neurons kick in, and they will show each other that they both find it funny, and then more people will tag on, and it becomes contagious.

      At least for the Improv All experiments, the shared feeling is one of laughter, and because people are experiencing it together, they feel more connected to one another.

      In particular I really liked the high fives up the staircase act, because the initial shared experience of a gloomy, monotonous morning commute to work was changed to one of "alright, I'm gonna get a high five!" and everyone really seemed to be enjoying the experience together as opposed to suffering together.
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        Mar 24 2012: The whole idea of mirror neurons have fascinated me since I’ve heard about them a year or two ago. One of the scenarios which I frequently heard in relation to mirror neurons involves newborns which have an instinctual “programming” to lock in on someone’s eyes and faces, especially that of his or her mother. Then a smile might fly across the baby’s features and the person usually responds in kind. These moments are powerful binding ones in terms of the budding relationship. I would certainly define this as a shared experience since the mother and baby become so in tune with each other but the fact that it seems instinctive is thought provoking in itself.
        One, we are born with the ability and drive to implement these moments of “shared experience”. Do you think this disappears or becomes more hidden as we grow up?
        Second, could we duplicate these pathways or characterize them so that they are reproducible across the board?
        • Mar 26 2012: I think rather than it disappearing, we tend to hide this ability subconsciously for fear of not being understood, rejected or when trust has been broken.
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          Mar 26 2012: Maria,
          I agree. The idea of mirror neurons allowing us to connect on a deeper level is fascinating. In his TED talk, (http://www.ted.com/talks/vs_ramachandran_the_neurons_that_shaped_civilization.html) Vilayanur Ramachandran spoke about how these mirror neurons allowed us to develop as a civilization and begin to learn from each other to create a culture.

          I think learning from each other is the ultimate form of shared experience. Not only do the individuals involved experience something together, they learn something that stays with them for the rest of their lives, forever perpetuating that bond.

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