Insects master abstract concepts


image of a bee performing a task
“An insect’s brain is capable of constructing and handling abstract concepts. It can even use two different concepts simultaneously in order to make a decision when faced with a new situation….”

“…While it was previously thought that only humans and some primates were capable of Continue reading


Mirror neurons and our non-verbal communication system


Quoting from Wikipedia’s entry on “Mirror neurons”:

“A mirror neuron is a neuron which fires both when an animal performs an action and when the animal observes the same action performed by another animal. Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of another animal, as though the observer were itself performing the action.” Go to the wikipedia entry >>

I stumbled on a fairly old but still interesting article on Scientific American about mirror neurons.

“Action performed by one person can activate motor pathways in another’s brain responsible for performing the same action. The second [person] understands viscerally what the first is doing because this mirror mechanism let her experience it in her own mind.” (Rizzolatti, Fogassi, Gallesse)

Remote emotional experience?

“These mirror neurons” provide a direct internal experience, and therefore understanding of another person’s act, intention or emotion.”(Rizzolatti, Fogassi, Gallesse)

Their relationship to learning

“Mirror neurons may also underlie the ability to imitate norther’s action, and thereby learn, making the mirror mechanism a bridge between individual brains for communication and connection on multiple levels.”(Rizzolatti, Fogassi, Gallesse)

Mirror neurons have been linked to empathy, the ability to recognize and empathize with emotional messages from others.

This may be just the beginning
• I believe that mirror neurons are part of our non-verbal communication system.

• I believe that mirror neurons are just the beginning of a potential recognition of various intra-system and inter-system communication systems operating within living organisms.

Related in print
Giacomo Rizzolatti, Leonardo Fogassi and Vittorio Gallese. “Mirrors in the Mind”. Scientific American, November 2006. p.54-61.

Keyword: Daniel Montano, Dan Montano, user experience design, information architect

Non-verbal Communication (a list of variables used to communicate)


Non-verbal communication may include any type of change expressed within a pattern that can be related to other information.

(The following is a quick brainstorm. You may want to categorize and group these; e.g. graphical, facial expressions, sound, etc)

Here are some other examples of non-verbal communication variables for us to consider:


  • pressure
  • expanse of contact
  • vibration
  • motion sequence
  • direction of motion


  • sequence of smell
  • intensity or thickness,


  • temperature changes,
  • eye contact (gaze), sequence of gaze, duration of gaze, motion of gaze, body and gaze combinations


  • volume
  • variation of volume
  • duration of one volume contrasted with duration of another volume
  • context of volume variation etc
  • vocal nuance
  • intonation proximity
  • duration, environmental context during proximity
  • vocalized sounds (paralanguage)


gestures, “size” or “expansion of gesture”, speed of gesture, duration of gesture, motion of gesture, sequence of gesture

facial expression? pause (silence)
dress, meaning of color, size, objects within cultural lexicon, physical variables (e.g. size, etc)
posture, sequence, duration, context of posture..

syntax-time relationships
motion, color, shape, size, thickness, width,
texture, opacity, distortion, number of occurrences
synchronicity, independence,
Line thickness (think barcode)
Space between any elements (eg. Space between sound elements (think music)
Space between contact of elements (think telegraph’s morse code)
Saturation, brightness, reaction to other elements, weight, malleability, heat, durability of gesture, quantity, connection, angle, location, etc.

Johns Hopkins University – List of experts in non-verbal communication

Wikipedia: non-verbal communication in Wikipedia