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Understanding Other MindsPerspectives from developmental social neuroscience$
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Simon Baron-Cohen, Michael Lombardo, and Helen Tager-Flusberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199692972

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199692972.001.0001

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Neural sources of empathy

Neural sources of empathy

An evolving story

(p.214) Chapter 13 Neural sources of empathy
Understanding Other Minds

Jamil Zaki

Kevin Ochsner

Oxford University Press

The ability to feel what others are feeling is basic to human social life. In recent years, neuroscientists have begun to study empathy as distinct from other affective phenomena or mentalizing. Together this research demonstrates that empathy occurs in a variety of domains and is modulated by both context and dispositional differences. Research further suggests that vicarious feeling relies upon many of the same neural networks that represent direct experience. This chapter provides an overview of the field. Focusing on empathy for pain, we describe different experimental methods and their findings. We hone in on several cortical regions that are frequently associated with empathy, the anterior insula and the cingulate cortex. We further present evidence for the link between empathy and prosocial behavior. Throughout the chapter, we highlight unanswered questions and propose future avenues for research.

Keywords:   social neuroscience, empathy, pain, insula, cingulate cortex

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