The mirror neurons in our brains allow us to observe and in turn imagine ourselves performing an action or experiencing an event. The same neurons fire when we make the observation real for ourselves. They also can fire when the experience is merely described. For example, “A large spider crawls up the leg of a child.” or “A hiker stumbles upon a skunk and startled, the skunk turns and sprays.” It also allows the brain to predict an action by observing a partial action. (A hand reaching in the direction of a soda can.) The action is inferred. Thus, sensations or emotions of another being can be empathized and understood. These phenomena can be directly observed with functional MRI imaging.
I suppose the existence of a physical structure in the brain makes perfect sense if these abilities are indeed inherited. Other animals have these same neurons and they have been extensively studied in monkeys.