Models of movement, which are activated in the brain when we observe the actions of another person, hold information and knowledge about the way our own body functions. The possibilities and limitations of movement of our own body are the reference from which we process and interpret the actions of another person. In other words, we understand in others that which we can do ourselves, and what we cannot do ourselves, we cannot also understand in others. Feedback from our own bodies apparently plays a role in our intuitive knowledge of the intentions of other people. In this way, we can predict not only the consequences of other people’s actions, but we are able to “put ourselves in the position” of the other person. Such a mechanism is the basis for sympathy and empathy, and thus decisive for the success and continuity of social relationships.
more from the Max Planck Society here.