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I feel how you feel but not always: the empathic brain and its modulation


Hein, G; Singer, T (2008). I feel how you feel but not always: the empathic brain and its modulation. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 18(2):153-158.

Abstract

The ability to share the other’s feelings, known as empathy, has recently become the focus of social neuroscience studies. We review converging evidence that empathy with, for example, the pain of another person, activates part of the neural pain network of the empathizer, without first hand pain stimulation to the empathizer’s body. The amplitude of empathic brain responses is modulated by the intensity of the displayed emotion, the appraisal of the situation, characteristics of the suffering person such as perceived fairness, and features of the empathizer such as gender or previous experience with pain-inflicting situations. Future studies in the field should address inter-individual differences in empathy, development and plasticity of the empathic brain over the life span and the link between empathy, compassionate motivation and prosocial behavior.

The ability to share the other’s feelings, known as empathy, has recently become the focus of social neuroscience studies. We review converging evidence that empathy with, for example, the pain of another person, activates part of the neural pain network of the empathizer, without first hand pain stimulation to the empathizer’s body. The amplitude of empathic brain responses is modulated by the intensity of the displayed emotion, the appraisal of the situation, characteristics of the suffering person such as perceived fairness, and features of the empathizer such as gender or previous experience with pain-inflicting situations. Future studies in the field should address inter-individual differences in empathy, development and plasticity of the empathic brain over the life span and the link between empathy, compassionate motivation and prosocial behavior.

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185 citations in Web of Science®
209 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:April 2008
Deposited On:14 Nov 2008 09:42
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:28
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0959-4388
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.conb.2008.07.012
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-3965

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