Shared spaces create an environment where people with the same interests can have influence one another. How else do we affect one another in a physical space? In fact, we influence one another in every single way, even subconsciously. Behaviour is contagious. By saying that, we are like mirrors or copycats when we share a space. For instance, the act of shaking one’s legs in an office triggers another to start shaking his or her legs too. Humming a song might cause the same tune to be stuck in another colleague’s head.
These minute behaviours can spread across the whole office. This is caused by mirror neurons in our brains. Mirror neurons were discovered by a research team led by neurophysiologist Giacomo Rizzolatti in the 1990s. They are neurons in the brain’s frontal cortex which, when activated, result in imitation or mimicry that many scientists now believe is the foundation of empathy. As independent individuals, we are social animals and mirror neurons are evidence of our interdependence. “Mirror neurons seem to be a bridge between our thinking, feeling, and actions — and between people”, says Marco Iacobini, a neuroscientist at UCLA.