These mirror neurons were discovered by Italian researchers in the early 1990s. They discovered that there is a whole system of neurons that will in our brain when watching actions performed by another. This system also encodes the intention of the action being performed.
For example, when we see a person smile, your mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, creating a sensation in our own minds of the feeling associated with smiling. Therefore, we don’t have to think about what the other person intends by smiling, we experience the meaning immediately and effortlessly.
While there is still much, we have to learn about this mirror neuron system in humans and what its functions are, researchers believe that this system might form the basis for empathy in humans.