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Moving Beyond Self-InterestPerspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences$
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Stephanie L. Brown, R. Michael Brown, and Louis A. Penner

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388107.001.0001

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Neuroscience of Empathic Responding

Neuroscience of Empathic Responding

Chapter:
7 Neuroscience of Empathic Responding
Source:
Moving Beyond Self-Interest
Author(s):

Jean Decety

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388107.003.0036

Empathy, the capacity to comprehend the affective and emotional states of others in relation to oneself, has evolved with the mammalian brain and plays a critical role in social interaction. This chapter critically examines the contribution of affective neuroscience to the understanding of the mechanisms underlying empathy in humans with a particular emphasis on studies that investigate brain responses to the distress and pain of others. Both bottom-up sensory information processing and top-down regulation and appraisal mechanisms are involved in the experience of empathy. This accounts for the fact that empathy is not an automatic process and that it can be modulated (amplified or inhibited) by various motivational, dispositional and situational factors.

Keywords:   empathy, Shared neural representations, insula, anterior cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex

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