Dissociation of Cognitive and Emotional Empathy in Adults With Asperger Syndrome Using the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET)
ABSTRACT Empathy is a multidimensional construct consisting of cognitive (inferring mental states) and emotional (empathic concern) components. Despite a paucity of research, individuals on the autism spectrum are generally believed to lack empathy. In the current study we used a new, photo-based measure, the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET), to assess empathy multidimensionally in a group of 17 individuals with Asperger syndrome (AS) and 18 well-matched controls. Results suggested that while individuals with AS are impaired in cognitive empathy, they do not differ from controls in emotional empathy. Level of general emotional arousability and socially desirable answer tendencies did not differ between groups. Internal consistency of the MET's scales ranged from .71 to .92, and convergent and divergent validity were highly satisfactory.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Hauke R Heekeren, Aug 23, 2015
Click to see the full-text of:
Article: Dissociation of Cognitive and Emotional Empathy in Adults With Asperger Syndrome Using the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET)
- SourceAvailable from: Oliver Gero Bosch
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
- "Participants performed the Multifaceted Empathy Task (MET) at t+75 min. This computer test comprises 40 photographs of people in emotionally charged situations (Dziobek et al., 2008), and has been described in detail elsewhere (Preller et al., 2014). The stimuli depict everyday life situations conveying information on emotional mental states via facial expression, body language, and context. "
ABSTRACT: Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a GHB-/GABAB-receptor agonist. Reports from GHB abusers indicate euphoric, prosocial, and empathogenic effects of the drug. We measured the effects of GHB on mood, prosocial behavior, social and non-social cognition and assessed potential underlying neuroendocrine mechanisms. GHB (20mg/kg) was tested in 16 healthy males, using a randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over design. Subjective effects on mood were assessed by visual-analogue-scales and the GHB-Specific-Questionnaire. Prosocial behavior was examined by the Charity Donation Task, the Social Value Orientation test, and the Reciprocity Task. Reaction time, memory, empathy, and theory-of-mind were also tested. Blood plasma levels of GHB, oxytocin, testosterone, progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), cortisol, aldosterone, and adrenocorticotropic-hormone (ACTH) were determined. GHB showed stimulating and sedating effects, and elicited euphoria, disinhibition, and enhanced vitality. In participants with low prosociality, the drug increased donations and prosocial money distributions. In contrast, social cognitive abilities such as emotion recognition, empathy, and theory-of-mind, and basal cognitive functions were not affected. GHB increased plasma progesterone, while oxytocin and testosterone, cortisol, aldosterone, DHEA, and ACTH levels remained unaffected. GHB has mood-enhancing and prosocial effects without affecting social hormones such as oxytocin and testosterone. These data suggest a potential involvement of GHB-/GABAB-receptors and progesterone in mood and prosocial behavior. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.Psychoneuroendocrinology 07/2015; 62:1-10. DOI:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.07.167 · 5.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
- "These emotion-specific effects might indicate that oxytocin influences emotional rather than cognitive processing. Likewise , in the Multifaceted Empathy Test (Dziobek et al., 2008) where stimuli include additional facial and contextual features, oxytocin enhanced the intensity of emotional reactions (emotional empathy), but not the identification of others' mental states (cognitive empathy) (Hurlemann et al., 2010). Taken together, these findings suggest that oxytocin effects on mind-reading depend on both baseline socialemotional abilities and properties of the environment that contribute to the interaction. "
ABSTRACT: One of the most well-known findings in human oxytocin research is its beneficial effect on "mind-reading", i.e., inferring others' mental states just from the eye region in the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). Previous studies have partially confirmed these improvements and have further shown that they depend both on baseline social-emotional abilities and on specific item characteristics such as difficulty. Following the original design of Domes et al. (2007), the aim of the current study was to replicate and extend previous findings by thoroughly investigating the impact of oxytocin administration on RMET performance. We tested for potential moderation effects involving item difficulty, valence, intensity, sex of poser as well as individual differences in trait empathy measured with the Empathy Quotient (EQ) for a general score and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) for a multidimensional assessment of cognitive and emotional empathy. Oxytocin did not affect mind-reading, neither in general nor when considering specific item characteristics. An association between oxytocin-induced changes in RMET performance and emotional empathy (the empathic concern scale of the IRI) was evident, with individuals low in emotional empathy showing greater improvement after oxytocin administration compared to placebo. The reproducibility and variability of these and prior findings needs to be addressed in future experiments. As true effects may not replicate across different studies for various reasons, this should not discourage, but encourage further research. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.Psychoneuroendocrinology 06/2015; 60:75-81. DOI:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.06.006 · 5.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
- "2.3. The Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET)  "
ABSTRACT: The aim of this study is to evaluate the empathic ability and its functional brain correlates in Post-traumatic stress disorder subjects (PTSD). Seven PTSD subjects and ten healthy controls, all present in the L'Aquila area during the earthquake of the April 2009, underwent fMRI during which they performed a modified version of the Multifaceted Empathy Test. PTSD patients showed impairments in implicit and explicit emotional empathy, but not in cognitive empathy. Brain responses during cognitive empathy showed an increased activation in patients compared to controls in the right medial frontal gyrus and the left inferior frontal gyrus. During implicit emotional empathy responses patients with PTSD, compared to controls, exhibited greater neural activity in the left pallidum and right insula; instead the control group showed an increased activation in right inferior frontal gyrus. Finally, in the explicit emotional empathy responses the PTSD group showed a reduced neural activity in the left insula and the left inferior frontal gyrus. The behavioral deficit limited to the emotional empathy dimension, accompanied by different patterns of activation in empathy related brain structures, represent a first piece of evidence of a dissociation between emotional and cognitive empathy in PTSD patients. The present findings support the idea that empathy is a multidimensional process, with different facets depending on distinct anatomical substrates. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.Behavioural Brain Research 12/2014; 282. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2014.12.049 · 3.39 Impact Factor