Faking Family! Body Language Expert Patti Wood sees that Kim Kardashian ‘Doesn’t Want To Show Any Connection’ To Bruce In Awkward Family Photo— Who Else Is All For Show

Here is my body language read of Photo of the Kardashian, Bruce Jenner Family. 

From Left to Right
Kim Kardashian (not Bruce’s biological daughter- Kris and Rob Kardashian Sr.)
Kendall Jenner (Bruce’s biological daughter)
Bruce Jenner
Kylie Jenner (Bruce’s biological daughter)
Kourtney Kardashian ((not Bruce’s biological daughter- Kris and Rob Kardashian Sr.)
Khloe Kardashian (not Bruce’s biological daughter- Kris and Rob Kardashian Sr.)
 From left to right:

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.

Was he lying? UFC champion Jon Jones tested positive for cocaine. Was Jon Jones Lying in His Media Interview About Cocaine Use. Body Language Expert Patti Wood Reads Jon Jones Body Language During Cocaine Use Interview For Yahoo.com

Recently UFC champion Jon Jones tested positive for cocaine ahead of his latest fight. There are rumors that he has a drug problem. He refuted these rumours in an interview yesterday, Here is my read to answer the question. Is Jon Jones honest in his replies.

I read the interview of Jon Jones cocaine drug test finding apology statement first then the Jon Jones Daniel Cormier Vicarious off Air Exchange. Jon Jones truly does have an on air off air personality and great media coach.
Though at first glance he seems amazingly calm, and matter of fact, if you look closely and examine his subtle nonverbal cues he shows tension. There are indicators he is holding his deep displeasure in; He pulls back on volume of his voice. She is speaking in clipped loud assertive voice; he is not matching her volume or assertiveness which would be normal if he was totally relaxed and revealing everything. Instead oddly we see this big ole guy whispering back his answers. ‘Watch how he presses his lips together in what I call pouty kiss mouth cue. Those are cues of the bad taste the question being asked and the answers he is giving feel to him.
Also listen to the little clicks as he moistens his lips, (The mouth gets dry under stress, could be stress of withholding information, but this is also a stressful interview.) Jones says, “I am not here to make excuses.” This is an interesting statement. People who are totally in integrity and revealing everything would not even feel the need to say that. He then follows that with,”... Basically, I was at a party?” Basically acts as a curtain word that covers up the truth and details of what happened at the party. I typically only hear someone use a curtain word in interviews and interrogations and court room testimony when they are hiding the truthful details. You don’t use “basically” in everyday conversations. Or for example, a scientist might use the word when trying to describe a complex process that he doesn’t want to spend the time describing to a novice to his field. Jones is not telling you how wild his behavior really was.
The “I am not going to blame…” speech, gives him a chance to blame.” It sounds like it was scripted from a Media coach. The phrase really works to make him look to the general public like he is being totally up front. 
“I don’t know what made me... (again the pouty kiss that shows he is displeased and not sharing everything.
“I am not a cocaine addict by any mean.” (He didn’t put an s on means; he didn’t finish the sentence, which shows his lack of certainly in that answer. He follows that with, “I am not even a frequent user.” That is an odd statement. He gets to define what a frequent user is. Practice liars use that kind of wording. In this case he can make that statement and appear honest, but it frequent user could mean so many things. (It is comparative to the words “sexual relations” in the, “I did not have Sexual Relations with that women,” admission of Clinton.) The one statement that he believes and feels the most strongly about it, “It was Really Dumb.”
Body language and Watch the bit of the tape, as he talks about telling his brothers and the one brother saying it is really common in the locker room, he does a tongue cleanse. Very normal cue that shows he would like to get the whole conversations about his brothers out of his mouth. Anyone would.
He actually gets more relaxed as he talks about not having to check into rehab. I like him more and more, which is highly unusual for a Confessions Apology statement Interview. That is so interesting.
He says, “…try to do things better.” His delivery was honest and the feel show say pacing was on the mark. I believe he wants to try to do things better. But do notice the limiter word TRY.
He honestly does feel bad about having let fans down.
Body Language Analysis of Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier vicious off air exchange.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.

Recommendations for Eating Etiquette in Other Countries

I am working with this journalist on a news story and was impressed with the detailed recommendations for eating etiquette in other countries.

Here is the link to the article and the actual article is below: 


The first time I sat down for a real Chinese banquet, on assignment to frigid Manchuria back in 1988, I found myself confronted first with a heaped serving dish of deep-fried, whole baby sparrows.
How did I grab one of these with a chopstick or dissect bone from flesh without making a fool of myself? Next came one large boiled tortoise, the first and last I would ever attempt to devour. Still hungry, I was relieved when the main course turned out to be a recognisably delectable, if massive, whole fish.
Always familiarise yourself with the local specialties. — Paul Harrison
Having lived in Asia for 16 years, I know that relocating to the Orient from Europe, the US or Australia can often leave one thoroughly disoriented — especially when it comes to navigating the dining experience. Each country’s offerings and etiquette are challenging and varied. Even before the meal starts, the distant bow expected by Japanese hosts may cause offense to Chinese seeking the modern-day respect of a brisk, if not too firm, handshake.
Consuming dishes with confidence in Asia begins not just with peanuts or jellyfish appetizers, but also with the realisation that no two cuisines on the continent — or means to devour them— are quite alike. Here, getting one’s fill is not as important as getting a feel for varying culinary customs.
In part, that’s due to the traditional significance food plays in these societies, where certain edibles have long connoted family, pride of place and especially status. “For starters, always familiarise yourself with the local specialities,” said Paul Harrison, a longtime sales executive for General Electric medical equipment. “In Wuxi, China, I knew the local peaches were renowned, so I requested to try them or know when they were in season. That impressed everyone.”
Dining at a restaurant
Getting that prized first invitation to share a meal with a local boss is just the first hurdle. The real challenges are yet to come, and it helps to understand the implication of particular locations. If your host has any significance within a company, he may invite you to dine in a private room. The guest of honor will be placed at the seat farthest from the door, always considered the most prestigious location. This is especially true in China and Japan. Also, be prepared to sing in a bit of after-dinner karaoke, especially in China and South Korea.
When it comes to the basic eating implements, much leeway is given to Western ways, with knives and forks provided except in the most remote spots. Still, locals will be delighted and impressed if you have mastered chopsticks or are even willing to dive in with your hands (in India, and rural parts of the Philippines), so long as they’re washed.
By whatever means, take small portions and don’t try to shove any helpings onto your dining neighbour’s plate, especially if using chopsticks. Don’t be put off if everyone pokes their germ-laden sticks into a common soup pot. The Chinese and Japanese are especially adept at touching only the parts they are aiming to place in their mouths. Slurping and smacking noises are considered appreciative. “Just don’t finish every morsel down to the last dumpling,” warns Mark Michelson, chairman of the Asia CEO Forum. “Leave some over so your hosts won’t feel compelled to order more.”
In China, it’s also prudent to leave room for the sweet soups or starchy staples such as rice or noodles, that, to most foreigners’ surprise, are only served as the finishing touches at traditional banquets.
Avoid demanding special dishes or accompaniments. When in doubt, defer to a local. “While Chinese want to pick fish fresh from the tank,” cautioned Mike Chinoy, a senior fellow at the USC US-China Institute at the University of Southern California. “Thais, being serious Buddhists, would never want to suffer the bad karma of singling out any living being for death.” If hosts in Indonesia or Malaysia are Muslim, don’t go demanding side dishes of barbecued pork.
Of course, stories are legion about Westerners being presented with all sorts of unfamiliar items, from dog to monkey brains. Have no fear. Most Asians are well aware of Western food phobias and don’t go out of their way to make you uncomfortable. However, fish will have the head and meat will usually be attached to chewy bones and tendons that can be spit out. You will win points by enthusiastically sampling anything on offer. When served up crispy ants with pine nuts, “just tell yourself that it’s not going to kill you,” Harrison said.
Bottoms up
Be prepared to bob up and down. The polite expectation is that you rise from your seat with each frequent toast, always clinking the glass lower than that of the boss. If there’s a “Ganbei” or “Kanpai” (“drink all” in Chinese and Japanese) command at the end, then it’s bottoms up. Many foreigners find it difficult to keep in step with spirits offered straight or continually replenished shots. “Rice liquor [poured out] under the table is a China survival skill,” Chinoy said. The taste may be luscious and the quality high, but the alcohol levels are instantly mind-numbing — not exactly the way you want to start a business discussion.
Replenishing glasses of tea can be just as fraught with etiquette risks. Wait for proper steeping and pour into everyone’s cup before your own. And when the favour is returned, the Chinese will be wowed by a thankful tapping of an index finger on the table, a gesture that refers to the legend of an Emperor in disguise.
Invited over for dinner
Outside of particularly hospitable lands such as the Philippines and Malaysia, don’t expect to be invited to local colleagues’ homes.
“If they do open their doors, treat it as the special occasion that it is,” Michelson said. Now is the chance to know the culture more deeply, though this doesn’t mean you’ll get a house tour — living quarters are off-limits.
Upon arrival, never ring the front door bell without a properly wrapped gift —something more formal, if not more costly, than the Western jug of Chianti. Souvenirs brought from back home, a small vase or scarf are appreciated. Flowers are appropriate, but note that white chrysanthemums in Japan are reserved primarily for funerals. Bringing wine, as is done so customarily in the West, may be viewed in Asia as doubting the host’s financial heft. As well, the Western habit of bringing a dish along can be viewed as an insult of the host’s spouse or cooks.
Take your shoes off before you enter and make sure your socks don’t have holes in the toes, a sign of poverty everywhere. Suppress all egalitarian urges to treat house staff with interest equal to their employers. “You don’t flirt with the maids or take a survey on their working conditions,” Harrison admonished. And leave promptly at the end of the meal, unless more liquor is offered. No one likes guests who overstay, so learn how to read indirect Asian hints. If people ask if you are tired, this invariably means that they already are.
Banquet bargaining
Should one get down to business before getting up from the meal, “make sure you’re talking with the right person in the organisation,” Harrison warned. “In Asia, power can highly concentrated and decision making quick, with no executive boards to consult.” It’s wrong to presume full command of English even high up in the chain of command. “Many a deal has been doomed by mistranslation, or presuming too much knowledge of English when it comes to the person on the other side,” Michelson said.
Harrison concurs. “Be concise and don’t suggest too many alternatives,” he said. When it comes to selecting food or negotiating, he offers this rule: “He who blinks first loses.”

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.

You Can Use Your Body Language To Help You Learn and Watching Sports Can Make You Feel Good.

Experience Based Learning. Our brain reuses motor experience we learned doing things to comprehend what we are watching or reading about. All of our experiences of doing in the world contribute to our comprehension of the world. So say you want to learn Physics, actually moving your body to experience the principals of physics could help you understand it. If the experience is grounded in your body, you would call on those motor areas of your brain when you’re listening to a lecture and it could facilitate understanding.”
Also watching activity can make us feel good.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Although this is something very hard to prove, it makes a lot of sense. If this system is important for the things we believe it is, which is social cognition, understanding the mental states of others, empathizing with others, and how to learn things just by watching others, evolution must have devised something that makes us feel good when we activate these cells, which makes us do it more and more, because that is an adaptive mechanism. The popularity of watching sports is a good demonstration of this.”
Here is the study I highlighted the parts I found interesting in yellow.
This Is Your Brain on Sports
The science behind watching the game
by Le Anne Schreiber on November 4, 2011
If you were watching World Series Game 6 when David Freese hit his game-saving two-run triple on a 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth, you may have jumped out of your seat, sloshed beer down your chest, and spewed half-chewed nachos toward the screen. But unbeknownst to you, as the beer fizzed, your brain leapt up, stretched your left arm nearly out of its socket trying to close the air between ball and glove before you slammed your backside into the Gulf logo on Busch Stadium’s right-field wall.
Your brain plucked the ball from the grass, rocketed it toward third and, effortlessly switching allegiances, your brain slid headfirst into the bag. It also trotted home to score the tying run, and in the next few seconds, it waved a white rally towel, spat, and looked glumly over the Ranger dugout fence. Whatever your conscious fan loyalties, your brain couldn’t help playing both sides, all roles. What your eyes see, your brain plays — as best it can, which is, of course, as variable as our actual playing and living.
The evidence that the spectating brain is also a playing brain has been mounting ever since the early 1990s, when a group of neurophysiologists at the University of Parma, Italy implanted electrodes in the brain of a macaque monkey to find out exactly which neurons fired when the monkey grasped a peanut and brought it to his mouth. The electrodes were placed in the monkey’s premotor cortex, the region known to initiate signals that direct muscle movement in both macaques and humans. The researchers hoped that pinpointing the individual motor neurons that fired when the monkey grasped the peanut might lead to therapies that could help brain-damaged humans recover hand function.
The Parma team succeeded in their original brain-mapping goal, but it was an accidental discovery that made Parma a world-renowned source of cutting-edge neuroscience (not to mention hard cheese and cured ham). As science lore has it, a researcher in the Parma lab was eating peanuts one day when he heard a monitor buzz, indicating that the monkey’s peanut-grasping neurons were firing. But the monkey had no peanut. After a moment of puzzlement came the researcher’s “eureka!” moment: Some of the same motor neurons that fire when a monkey performs an action were also firing when he watched someone else perform that action.
In fact, it took several such chance observations and then years of testing before the Parma researchers could believe what they were seeing, because it so violated their understanding of how the brain worked. Neurons in a macaque or human brain that are specialized to plan, select, and initiate our muscle movements should not fire to somebody else’s muscle movements. But since they appeared to be firing, the researchers wondered what the difference was, from our brain’s point of view, between doing and seeing, between playing the game and watching the game, and, most fundamentally, between one’s self and someone else?
The answer, according to subsequent research on both monkeys and humans, is that in a healthy premotor cortex, the difference is about 80 percent. In other words, about one-fifth of the neurons that fire in the premotor cortex when we perform an action (say, kicking a ball) also fire at the sight of somebody else performing that action. A smaller percentage fire even when we only hear a sound associated with an action (say, the crack of a bat). This subset of motor neurons that respond to others’ actions as if they were our own are called “mirror neurons,” and they seem to encode a complete archive of all the muscle movements we learn to execute over the course of our lives, from the first smile and finger wag to a flawless triple toe loop.
When we see a familiar action, our mirror neurons activate, and their firing lasts exactly as long as the observed action. This allows us to instantaneously understand the action, its goal, and even the emotions associated with it, without having to do any inferential thinking about it. If we are watching strenuous action, mirror neurons even provoke a small but measurable uptick in our heart and respiration rate.
In the nearly 20 years since the macaque in Parma gave new meaning to the phrase “monkey see, monkey do,” hundreds of research projects around the world have studied mirror neurons to learn about everything from how we acquire language to how we develop empathy. And if you are still reading this, you have probably started to wonder what mirror neuron research has to say about the experience that brings you to this site: sports spectating.
Common sense suggests that the sports-watching brain might be an ideal laboratory for testing the properties of mirror neurons. Several scientists have explored this idea, but their research has mostly focused on the spectating brains of professional athletes, because they wanted to see if these cells encode even the most highly specialized motor skills. And who has more refined motor skills than world-class athletes?
The most relevant study, published in 2008, was conducted at The University of Rome, where neuroscientists recruited 10 professional basketball players, 10 expert watchers (basketball journalists and coaches), and 10 students who had never played basketball, and made them all test subjects.
In the first part of the experiment, the researchers had all three groups watch film clips of players attempting free throws. The clips were stopped at ten mid-action intervals and everybody was asked to predict the likely success of the free throws. The players made more accurate predictions at every time interval, but their greatest advantage over both expert watchers and inexperienced students was at the earliest intervals, before the balls had even left the players’ hands, when there were no trajectories to watch.
This indicated that athletes were better than the others at understanding cues from the filmed players’ bodies. But the researchers also wanted to know how much their motor systems, primed by their mirror neurons, contributed to reading those cues. So in a second experiment, using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which yields the exact timing of neuronal firing, the researchers monitored the patterns of motor system activity in all three groups as they watched free throw video clips.
Everyone’s motor system perked up watching the action, but the students showed a generalized perk-up, while both players and expert watchers showed activity of the specific motor areas involved in shot-taking. What separated the players from the expert watchers, though, was greater excitation of the hand muscles controlling the ball, especially the muscle controlling the angle of the pinkie finger at the instant the ball left the shooter’s hand. There was not necessarily visible movement of the pinkie, but a measurable increase in what’s called “motor evoked potentials,” which signal preparation for intended action. The most unpredictable result: This activation was greatest when players watched the launch of a ball that was going to miss the basket.
Maybe the brains of the spectating players were not just simulating the shot-taking. Maybe they were trying to score. And so, perhaps, are we. We’re just not as good at it.
Although most of the mirror neuron research I found about sports spectating compared samples at fan extremes, such as professional athletes and those with no experience in a sport, the free throw study suggests that there is a sliding scale of mirror neuron response among spectators based on their real-life sports experience.
Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at UCLA and pioneering investigator of the mirror neuron system in humans, says the brain monitoring technology used in the Rome free throw study is best at measuring mirror neurons that are “strictly congruent,” which means they fire at the sight of an action that exactly matches one in the spectator’s motor repertoire. Other mirror neurons are “broadly congruent,” meaning they fire at observed actions that are similar to ones you have performed.
“About two-thirds of our mirror neurons are broadly congruent,” says Iacoboni, “which suggests to me that the purpose of the mirror neuron system is to get you more attuned to the goal of the action than the action itself.”
In sports fan terms, this means if you are watching someone take a free throw, and you have never played basketball, your strictly congruent mirror neurons will not fire, but the broadly congruent ones that remember tossing a crumpled piece of paper into a wastebasket will.
For technical reasons, and to eliminate extraneous factors, most mirror neuron experiments are designed to monitor brain activity while test subjects watch a fairly simple action sequence. Teasing out what these studies imply about the experience of watching an actual game moves us into the realm of informed speculation. Scientists are understandably reluctant to venture far into that realm, but I asked Iacoboni to answer a few questions and respond to speculations of my own about sports spectating.
Having read that Iacoboni is an avid tennis player and fan, I started there. “If you’re watching a tennis match,” I asked, “with a rooting interest in one of the players, do your mirror neurons fire equally to both players?”
“It’s well known that we have imitation biases,” Iacoboni said, “that we tend to imitate people like ourselves. When I’m watching Federer play Djokovic, most likely I’m going to mirror Federer more, because I like him more.”
“But if mirror neurons fire automatically,” I continued, “and they are goal-oriented, wouldn’t that create a natural tendency to keep one’s eye on the ball, and so make you mirror both players?”
“The motor system is strongly oriented toward the goal of an action,” Iacoboni answered. “When someone hits a tennis ball, the goal is to send the ball into a specific sector of space, and because of that, yes, I think there is a tendency to follow the ball. In fact, sometimes I want to focus on a player, watch how he moves, especially the balance of the body, the posture, but I can’t help myself from following the ball, and I get upset with myself.”
Switching to Iacoboni’s other favorite sport, soccer, I asked if a spectator without much playing experience was likely to have more mirror neuron activity when the ball was near the net, because everyone understands the goal of the action there — get the ball in or keep the ball out — while the goal of midfield action is less obvious to a non-player.
“This is one I don’t know how to answer,” Iacoboni said. “I would like to do the experiment, look at the difference in brain activity near the goal and at midfield. My hunch is that you are right.”
That strong goal orientation, I speculated, might make our mirror neurons show a preference for certain player positions that see more on-the-ball action, like quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs in football, who already exert a strong pull on our mirror neurons, because even if we have never played football, most of us have at least “broadly congruent” experiences of running, tossing, catching, and evading the attack of large men who want to harm us.
Iacoboni thought that was a reasonable hypothesis, especially with regard to quarterbacks, but didn’t expand, confessing little interest in American football, because, compared to soccer, it was “so slow, with all that stopping.”
Moving deeper into speculative territory, I asked if our mirror neurons, when activated strongly enough to set off MEPs (the aforementioned motor evoked potentials), could make us feel younger because those potentials, unlike our actual motor skills, could still be at or close to their best.
“In real life, when you make a full-blown action, you get all this sensory feedback,” Iacoboni said, “but when it’s just these tiny muscle contractions or maybe just increased excitability of your motor cortex, your motor plans can go unchecked by sensory feedback in a way that, it’s possible, makes you feel younger. That’s a nice idea.”
Doing an informal study of my own unrealistically youthful mirror neurons before talking to Iacoboni, I watched some Monday Night Football and noticed that I felt more intensely involved in the game when I turned off the sound, so I asked if announcers got in the way of our mirror neurons by engaging us in constant analysis.
“Absolutely,” Iacoboni said. “We actually have some data on that. Being analytical almost shuts down your motor cortex, doesn’t let you simulate in full what you are watching. I shut the sound off while watching tennis.”
Analytic language may put the damper on our brain’s motor areas, but that is not the case with other kinds of language. Research using football and hockey players produced evidence that mirror neurons are activated not only when we see or hear action, but also when we listen to or read descriptions of it. And as with the response to sights and sounds, the degree of mirror neuron activation, which speeds up comprehension, depends on our individual experience with what’s being described.
That research was conducted at the University of Chicago’s Human Performance Lab, where cognitive psychologist Sian L. Beilock is the principal investigator. Beilock explains it like this:
“Even when reading, one of the ways we understand information is by calling on those motor systems we used to act in the past. So for someone with a lot of experience playing, reading about football, for instance, has what we call ‘motor resonance,’ because they can call upon the parts of the brain they used playing to simulate the action in their heads, and that often makes what they’re reading easier to follow and makes them like that information better.”
And this enhanced comprehension is not just a matter of their having heard or read a lot of football language, because they were players?
“Background knowledge certainly aids comprehension,” Beilock answered, “but our brain also reuses motor experience we learned doing things to comprehend what we are watching or reading about. All of our experiences of doing in the world contribute to our comprehension of the world. It turns out, for instance, that we reuse areas of the brain that control our fingers when we count in our head, because at one point we learned to count on our fingers, and those same areas of the brain come alive again. “
You mean every motor skill we master makes us smarter?
“Yes, in the sense that the better you can do it, the better you can perceive it,” Beilock said, adding that her research team has a National Science Foundation grant to see if motor experience can be used to help students learn physics. “The idea is that if you get a student to physically experience being part, for instance, of an angular momentum system, to experience forces and torques and have to counteract them to keep something stable, it might help them understand these concepts when they’re reading about them. If the experience is grounded in your body, you would call on those motor areas of your brain when you’re listening to a lecture and it could facilitate understanding.”
I guess this means that the evolutionary purpose of our mirror neuron system is not primarily to make us more engaged sports spectators, although ESPN has certainly profited from this major side effect. It’s more likely designed to advance the species by helping us develop cognitive skills, including but not limited to predicting the success of free throws.
After reading the research and talking to Iacoboni and Beilock, I still had an unanswered question. What had launched me on this particular quest for information was the subjective experience of feeling almost physically active when I watched sports or dance, as if I were running, leaping, dodging, punching, and crashing to the ground myself. It was as if from my couch potato position I had reaped the benefit of at least a portion of the endorphins a workout would produce. But nothing in what I read about mirror neurons indicated whether or not we liked it when our mirror neurons fired.
So in a last phone call, I asked Iacoboni if mirror neuron activity made us feel good.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Although this is something very hard to prove, it makes a lot of sense. If this system is important for the things we believe it is, which is social cognition, understanding the mental states of others, empathizing with others, and how to learn things just by watching others, evolution must have devised something that makes us feel good when we activate these cells, which makes us do it more and more, because that is an adaptive mechanism. The popularity of watching sports is a good demonstration of this.”
Le Anne Schreiber is the former editor-in-chief of Womensports Magazine and a former sports editor at the New York Times. She was ESPN’s ombudsman from 2007 to 2009 and is the author of two books, Midstream and Light Years. This is her first piece for Grantland.

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Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.

Implementing the Concept of Mirror Neurons into an Exercise Setting Also includes How to Coach Someone to Change Their Body Language.

This is a very interesting article on implementing the concept of mirror neurons into an exercise setting. The author helps people who have injuries, say an injured knee. The author discusses what he feels are some of the controversial claims of mirror neuron researchers. He then goes on to suggest how to use what he feels is truth about mirror in exercise routines/physical therapy. He explains step by step how he has his clients watch videos to improve their exercising results. I have yellow highlighted the interesting parts. I was excited to see that the author’s step by step coaching regime is very similar to the regime that I have been using in my coaching with clients who want to improve their body language, first impressions, public speaking and interview techniques for many years. I have highlighted this coaching approach in green.
 Implementing the concept of mirror neurons into an exercise setting
Posted on January 5, 2014
From Wikipedia:
“A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.”
If I drink a beer neuron X fires. If neuron X also fires when I watch someone else drink a beer, X is a mirror neuron.
In the neuroscience world, mirror neurons are all the rage. You name it, and people have come up with a possible application. Speech therapy, autism, empathy, evolution, the list is extensive. However, it doesn’t take much scrolling to get to the section in Wikipedia titled, “Doubts concerning mirror neurons.”
“According to scientists such as Hickok, Pascolo, and Dinstein, it is not clear whether mirror neurons really form a distinct class of cells (as opposed to an occasional phenomenon seen in cells that have other functions), and whether mirror activity is a distinct type of response or simply an artifact of an overall facilitation of the motor system.”
Perhaps neuron X fires when I drink a beer and when I watch someone drink a beer, but maybe that’s 5% of what X does. Maybe X also spends 95% of its time on cell communication. Rather than call X a mirror neuron, it’d be more appropriate to say X is a “Communicative cell which also has mirroring properties.”
What you find is much of the media, and the scientists, purporting mirror neuron applications are making a lot of unsubstantiated claims.
First, the majority of mirror neuron research has been done on monkeys, not humans.
Second, there’s zero evidence for some of the touted benefits. Scientists have claimed mirror neurons are what help us understand actions. In regards to autism, perhaps a lack of mirror neurons, or a dysfunction in them, is part of the ailment? Say someone makes a gesture at you. According the theory, your mirror neurons for that gesture fire, causing you to understand what that person is doing. Issues with your mirror neurons = issues understanding. And what’s a hallmark of autistics? Trouble understanding social cues.
Greg Hickok of UC Irvine has a lengthy, head spinning, evisceration of the idea mirror neurons provide action understanding hereFortunately, he has some lighter reading on this topic in his blog tooAn easy refutation for mirror neurons providing understanding is using the condition Apraxia. From the National Institute of Health:
Apraxia is a disorder of the brain and nervous system in which a person is unable to perform tasks or movements when asked, even though:
·         The request or command is understood
·         They are willing to perform the task
·         The muscles needed to perform the task work properly
·         The task may have already been learned
So, Apraxia is a condition in which the person is unable to perform a task despite being able to understand the task. They have neurons which fire when it comes to understanding the task, but not when it comes to completing the task. If the mirror neuron theory of action understanding help up, this would be impossible. As the same neurons which understand the task are supposed to be the same neurons which complete the task.
A simpler example: Your dog can understand when you throw a ball for them to fetch; they know to chase it. Yet, your dog can’t throw a ball like you can. The dog has neurons to understand your action of throwing, but these are not the same neurons which help it throw a ball, because for the dog, those neurons don’t exist.
When it comes to action understanding, something else, a lot of something else, is responsible besides mirror neurons.
It seems easy enough until you realize neuroscientists have spent over a decade arguing about this. Now, I’m no neuroscience expert, but with all the people I’ve trained through the years, I know a little bit about how people understand and learn actions.
I feel like anyone who has coached people move in any capacity gets the following: Someone doesn’t merely watch a task then understand it, at least not without prior experience with that task. They watch it; maybe gain some understanding, then perform it; maybe gain some understanding, then get feedback, gain some more understanding, and so on.
Say you’re in the gym and someone is learning a new exercise. Does anyone expect this person to watch the new exercise then fully understand it? Where you demonstrate it for them, then are so confident they understand things, you walk away knowing they’ll have good form? Of course not. You demonstrate it, they do it, you give them feedback, and so on.
This seems to be a big part of how we grow up and comprehend the world. I wrote about this in my post on Dr. Drew’s book, The Mirror EffectThe idea is as we grow up our parents, or whomever is around us a lot, provides a great deal of our understanding of well, practically everything. (I think this is so interesting.)
If a kid is in pain, how does he or she even know what pain is? Sure, there’s some innate component, but think about it. A kid is running around, trips and bumps his head. He gets up, looks around, and overreacting mom comes rushing over freaking out “OH MY GOD ARE YOU OK?!” The baby learns based off what they see; what’s mirrored to them.
In other words: kid bumps his head, mom demonstrates what happened is a painful event, kid tries being in pain (they cry), mom gives feedback (“I know, I know, that must of hurt”).
Watch what happens in the following video. Notice when mom isn’t giving predictable responses -many of which have been learned at this point, the baby freaks out:
This is a long way of endorsing how trainers, therapists, teachers, whatever, should be showing how to do something before asking someone else to do it. When it comes to learning, visuals seem to be how we learn best. It’s better to show what smiling is than to only ask someone to smile…It’s better to show what a lunge is than to only ask someone to lunge.
So, mirror neurons aren’t why we understand tasks. What do they do then? In fact, do these things even exist?
Are mirror neurons real?
As I mentioned, an issue with the mirror neuron world is the majority of the research has been on monkeys. There is research on humans though. Here are some papers that have helped me wrap my head around this:
Notice the titles and the dates. In 2008 mirror neurons were found in humans. In April 2009 we found no evidence for them. Then a few months later we found evidence for them. And I’m only picking a few studies.
On top of this, these studies are insanely hard reads. This is partly because it is high level stuff, and partly because academics of this sort like to write in the manner of, “SPEAK ENGLISH!!!”
Because of the above, in combination with my remedial knowledge of this stuff, I’m not going to delve into these studies. Here are some major points:
-One of the confounding issues is which area of the brain is looked at. Not all studies look in the same area. “Why don’t they all look at the entire brain to simplify this?” Apparently, when you look at only one area you get a much better idea of what’s going on than when you look at multiple areas. Some scientists have different hunches as to where the mirror neurons lay. So, that’s one reason they decide to direct their research in certain brain areas. There’s a race to find these things and each scientist thinks they have the fastest route.
-Not all studies assess the same movements. From a different paper, What we currently know about mirror neurons:  
“Mirror neurons were originally defined as neurons which ‘‘discharged both during monkey’s active movements and when the monkey observed meaningful hand movements made by the experimenter.” Thus, the key characteristics of mirror neurons are that their activity is modulated both by action execution and action observation, and that this activity shows a degree of action specificity.”
The last part is the most important. In order for mirror neurons to fire, specific actions have to happen. This is what the researchers call “Goal oriented actions.” Think the difference between reaching for a piece of food and randomly moving the arms. The first is goal oriented; the second is not. Mirror neurons fire in the former; they don’t for the latter.
-The last study, which found mirror neurons, seems to be the best out of the group. They used goal directed actions and they looked in a place where it makes sense mirror neurons would be.
Let’s bring back the criticism quote from the beginning:
“According to scientists such as Hickok, Pascolo, and Dinstein, it is not clear whether mirror neurons really form a distinct class of cells (as opposed to an occasional phenomenon seen in cells that have other functions), and whether mirror activity is a distinct type of response or simply an artifact of an overall facilitation of the motor system.”
This still holds. What the studies show is cells appear to have the ability to mirror, but we don’t know if there are neurons whose sole function is to do this. For our purposes, does this even matter? If there is a mechanism for mirroring; there is real world application to be had.
Some understanding of why the brain is doing this can help with our application.
What do mirror neurons really do?
Remember, Hickok has been one of main critics of the role of mirror neurons, BUT, he believes they exist. His criticism is aimed at what other scientists have proposed their role to be. Therefore (from his blog),
“I’d like to propose the idea mirror neurons take sensory input for a motor purpose.
Can we learn something from the behavior of dogs? If you’ve played fetch with a dog you may have noticed that it quickly learns to anticipate the consequences of throwing actions. For example, it is not hard to fool a naive dog who plays a lot of fetch with a fake throw. Even though the ball isn’t flying through the air the dog may nonetheless take off in chase.
Presumably, the animal has learned to recognize throwing actions. This is interesting because dogs can’t throw and so can’t have throwing mirror neurons. This is also interesting because somehow the action observation, throwing, is triggering an action execution, chasing, in the dog. This tells us that and action observation-execution sensory-motor circuit exists in the animal.
There may even be “chase” cells in the dog’s motor cortex that fire both during action observation and action execution.
Put more succinctly in a paper from him- (Mis)understanding mirror neurons:
“Observed actions can serve as important inputs to action selection, including but not necessarily limited to, mirror actions. “
As a dog, you have a mirror system for certain movements. Your owner throws a ball, your mirror system fires, reflecting the throwing motion, which signals you to chase after the ball. The sensory input is you seeing the throw, the motor response is you chasing the ball. Sensory input => Motor response.
If you’re a human though: You still have a mirror system for certain movements; you watch someone throw a ball, your mirror system fires, reflecting the throwing motion, which can possibly signal you to also throw a ball. 
If you’re a dog, your brain can mirror the action, your body cannot. If you’re a human, your brain can mirror the action, and so you can your body. If you’re a dog, you can’t form a motor response which mirrors the sensory input. You have the neurons to mirror a throwing a motion; you don’t have the neurons to respond with a throwing motion. If you’re a human, you do.
What’s crucial here, I believe, is it appears if you are able to generate a motor response that mirrors the sensory input, the brain circuitry is the same. This is referred to as producing the same neural substrate.
For example, you watch someone throw a ball, your brain fires in the “throw a ball” manner, producing the “throw a ball” neural substrate. Whether you watch someone throw a ball or throw a ball yourself, this neural substrate is the same. So, watching someone throw a ball can help you throw a ball as the brain is practicing the same circuitry. Whether your own body moves or not, your brain is practicing the movement. If you’re a dog, this isn’t true. But we’re not worried about dogs.
We now have our framework for real world application.
Think of athletes. When trying to change their technique, what do they often do? They watch film. Usually a combination of themselves to understand their flaws, along with watching whatever it is they’re trying to attain.
Say you think Roger Federer has perfect forehand technique, and your forehand technique is lacking. You may watch film of Federer to pick up on his technique. We now have an idea why this works: the mirror system. Watching his forehand technique produces a similar circuitry in your brain, as if you actually swung your racquet.
There’s another perk of learning this way- it’s less intense. As a baseball pitcher, you can’t work on your technique through actual throwing indefinitely. You can’t throw everyday, all day. You’ll overtrain, burn out, get hurt, lose strength, etc.
I wrote about this in How many sets and reps to correct muscular imbalances? I used strength and hypertrophy in that post to exemplify there is an optimal amount of volume when trying to get attain something, such as getting stronger and bigger. Go above or below this threshold and you run the risk of attenuating gains. You can’t always be “on.”
The brain however, is always on. So, using our mirror system enables us extra practice without the expense of hampering gains. We’re still using the brain, but we leave the musculoskeletal system alone.
“Isn’t this mental imagery / visualization?”
Not quite!
This is where the work of Lorimer Moseley and the NOIgroup comes in handy. They have a great resource, The Graded Motor Imagery Handbook. They talk about how different levels of imagery elicit different levels of brain activation. Visualization / motor imagery, imagining yourself doing a movement, elicits the greatest level of brain activation without actually moving.
Contrast this with observing people (mirror system), which is, they think (we don’t know for sure yet), the lowest level of brain activation.
So, compared to motor imagery, we’re activating less of the brain.
“Isn’t that bad?”
When you put things into the context of an exercise program, no. I think it’s actually good. Just like the muscles, it’s not like the brain can be on 24/7. Using observation allows us to practice at the lowest intensity level possible.
Speaking of context, let’s remember we’re using all this in the realm of teaching people how to move differently. We’re usually trying to get people out of habits that have been ingrained for a long time. In my experience, people have a very hard time initially knowing when they’re moving better. They just don’t know where there body is in space. They forget their knees are caving in, how they’re standing, their elbow positioning, whatever it is. They need constant reminder and feedback of how to move differently.
Let’s say this population uses motor imagery. Instead of squatting, they’re imagining themselves squat. How does anyone know if their form is bad? There’s no way to give them feedback. If I’m working with someone I can’t let them know their knees are caving if their knees aren’t actually moving!
This is important because we don’t want them getting better at a dysfunctional movement. And, in motor imagery, the brain is firing almost as much as if they were actually moving. You might not be able to see the dysfunction, yet they could still be practicing the dysfunction in their head.
Therefore, I believe using observation is better. Here’s how I do it:
  • In a corrective setting, from Monday – Sunday I outline what to do for people. 6 of those 7 days involves actual exercise. 3 of the 6 days are dedicated to one workout, workout “A”; the other 3 of the 6 days are dedicated to the other workout, workout “B.” This fits in line with the optimal frequency to train muscle groups for beginners.
  • One of the 7 days there is no regular exercise. Instead, I have the person focus on their activities of daily living. They’re going to be moving during the day; let’s do it well.  I also have them watch videos of the proper form of certain exercises, and I have them observe other people’s movement dysfunctions which are similar to theirs.
Let me use a recent example; someone with a common issue. Alex is someone presenting with knee pain. His femurs tend to rotate inwards too much, and his lower leg tends to rotate outwards too much. His knees turn in too much; his feet turn out too much.
On Monday, Thursday and Saturday, he has various exercises aimed at working on this. On Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, he also has various exercises working on this, but these 3 days of exercise are different than Monday, Thursday and Saturday. This way we’re not working the exact same muscles and movements more than 3 days per week.
On Wednesdays, when there is no prescribed exercise, Alex works on his ADLs (he also does this the rest of the week), which are aimed at his movement dysfunction.
Next, he watches some of his prescribed exercises to further ingrain proper form. He might watch the ones which have been the hardest for him to nail down, the ones I think have most benefit, or the ones which tend to give him pain. This way he gets to watch people do a movement which may give him pain, in a pain free manner.
Finally, he watches other people throughout the day. Observing others who 1) Have the same issue and 2) Don’t have the same issue. Paying close attention to the differences between these groups. Now his observation has a goal. It’s not random people watching; it’s people watching with a specific focus. The idea being he wants to “mirror” the better movement and learn to avoid the improper. He takes his sensory input -watching good and bad movement at the lower body, and uses that to form a motor response -his own good movement of the lower body.
This way, 7 days per week, Alex is working on moving better. Whether it’s through actually moving better throughout the day, specific exercises, watching other people, all week he’s doing it.
As you can see, I’m only prescribing this with people one day per week. The person can do it more throughout the week, and I think that’s a good idea, but there’s only so much time I can expect out of clients. Because I’m getting used to this myself too, this seemed like a nice way to start things.
In terms of research to back this up, Moseley’s group has had some good success clinically, but haven’t really studied something of this nature yet. There are a ton of studies illustrating the benefits of using motor imagery in conjunction to physical therapy, but again, this isn’t really motor imagery, and I’ve only seen studies on neurological patients.
As far as I know, the only population trying something like this is athletes, which is a good thing. I’m not big on training people like athletes, but it’s uncanny how often the athletes are ahead of the researchers.
Peyton Manning recently had to sit out of practice due to an ankle injury. He needed to give his soft tissue some time to relax. But, he knows his brain is always on. That’s why you still see him doing mental reps:

Hard to argue with the results. Sensory input -watching film and reading pictures => Motor output -destroying defenses (except when it’s cold). Maybe Eli should work on his mirror system more. BOOM! Hall of famer my ass!

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.