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Abstract

Although signs of empathy have now been well documented in non-human primates, only during the past few years have systematic observations suggested that a primal form of empathy exists in rodents. Thus, the study of empathy in animals has started in earnest. Here we review recent studies indicating that rodents are able to share states of fear, and highlight how affective neuroscience approaches to the study of primary-process emotional systems can help to delineate how primal empathy is constituted in mammalian brains. Cross-species evolutionary approaches to understanding the neural circuitry of emotional 'contagion' or 'resonance' between nearby animals, together with the underlying neurochemistries, may help to clarify the origins of human empathy.
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... Following J. Panksepp, the authors treat neural emotional systems as emotional endophenotypes (emotional markers of underlying neuropsychological activity, which mediate between epigenetics and human behavior) and consider them as a component of early maladaptive schemas. These primary affective networks condition the development of higher-order mental processes and are central to the formation of an individual's behavior and relationships when interacting with others [54][55][56]. ...
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Abstract: Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the interrelationships of Young’s early maladaptive schemas with indicators of specific neural emotional systems conceptualized in Panksepp’s theory in a group of people suffering from depressive disorders. Materials and methods: The Affective Neuroscience Personality Scales (ANPS) v. 2.4. and J. Young’s Early Maladaptive Schema Questionnaire (YSQ-S3-PL) were used. Ninety (90) individuals aged 18–58, including 45 people treated for depression (DD group), were qualified to participate in the experiment. Results: The subjects in the DD group scored statistically significantly lower than the subjects from the control group (CG group) on the three ANPS scale domains, namely SEEKING, PLAY, and ANGER. The subjects with depressive symptoms scored significantly higher in the YSQ-S3-PL questionnaire on two domains of early maladaptive schemas, i.e., “Impaired autonomy and performance” and “Other-directedness”. Regression analysis results indicate that impairment of the emotional SEEKING system explains most of the variability in the following typical domains of depression: “Disconnection and rejection”, “Impaired autonomy and performance”, and “Other-directedness”. For score variability in the domain area of “Impaired limits”, the ANGER system was found to be most significant, and the FEAR system proved the same for “Overvigilance and Inhibition”. Conclusions: 1. Two domains of early maladaptive schemas are significant for the onset of depressive symptoms, namely “Impaired autonomy and performance” and “Other-directedness”, linked to difficulties in engaging in behaviors to meet one’s own needs. 2. Impairment of the neural emotional SEEKING system most significantly explains the variability in depression-typical areas of early maladaptive schemas.
... Empathy is generally regarded as an ability to perceive and be sensitive to others' situations, allowing individuals to feel or understand the emotions and experiences of others (Bastiaansen et al., 2009;Keum and Shin, 2019;Panksepp and Panksepp, 2013;Sivaselvachandran et al., 2018). Among its different forms, empathy for others' pain (empathic pain) is particularly important for inspiring prosocial behaviors, inhibiting aggressive behaviors and providing the basis for social moral development (de Waal, 2008;Decety et al., 2016;Vachon et al., 2014). ...
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Article Glutamatergic synapses from the insular cortex to the basolateral amygdala encode observational pain Graphical abstract Highlights d A new mouse model is established to study long-term observational pain d IC R-BLA R pathway is required for the formation/consolidation of observational pain d Glutamate encodes the synaptic transmission from the IC R to BLA R d Synaptotagmin-2 and RIM3 are key signals for the regulation of observational pain In brief Zhang et al. show that sibling but not stranger observer mice exhibit observational pain, which requires glutamate transmission from the insular cortex to the basolateral amygdala and is regulated by synaptotagmin-2 and RIM3. SUMMARY Empathic pain has attracted the interest of a substantial number of researchers studying the social transfer of pain in the sociological, psychological, and neuroscience fields. However, the neural mechanism of empathic pain remains elusive. Here, we establish a long-term observational pain model in mice and find that glutama-tergic projection from the insular cortex (IC) to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) is critical for the formation of observational pain. The selective activation or inhibition of the IC-BLA projection pathway strengthens or weakens the intensity of observational pain, respectively. The synaptic molecules are screened, and the upregulated synaptotagmin-2 and RIM3 are identified as key signals in controlling the increased synaptic glutamate transmission from the IC to the BLA. Together, these results reveal the molecular and synaptic mechanisms of a previously unidentified neural pathway that regulates observational pain in mice.
... A long-standing argument among VR researchers examining the platform's potential for driving social change is that BT can contribute to prosocial outcomes by increasing empathy for the embodied (human) group 105 . While the capacity for empathy is observed in many mammals 106 , inter-species empathy is less understood. For example, there are various issues surrounding the measurement of empathy for non-human victims, namely the inability for empathy scales to "tap into a single unitary construct" 107 www.nature.com/scientificreports/ ...
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Efforts to mitigate environmental threats are often inversely related to the magnitude of casualty, human or otherwise. This “compassion fade” can be explained, in part, by differential processing of large- versus small-scale threats: it is difficult to form empathic connections with unfamiliar masses versus singular victims. Despite robust findings, little is known about how non-human casualty is processed, and what strategies override this bias. Across four experiments, we show how embodying threatened megafauna-Loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta Caretta)-using virtual reality can offset and reverse compassion fade. After observing compassion fade during exposure to non-human casualty in virtual reality (Study 1; N = 60), we then tested a custom virtual reality simulation designed to facilitate body transfer with a threatened Loggerhead sea turtle (Study 2; N = 98). Afterwards, a field experiment (Study 3; N = 90) testing the simulation with varied number of victims showed body transfer offset compassion fade. Lastly, a fourth study (N = 25) found that charitable giving among users embodying threatened wildlife was highest when exposed to one versus several victims, though this effect was reversed if victims were of a different species. The findings demonstrate how animal embodiment in virtual reality alters processing of environmental threats and non-human casualty, thereby influencing conservation outcomes.
... The third subsystem generates appetitive states and desire to care for a newborn. This includes the mPOA, NAc, and VTA [44], but some areas, such as the medial amygdala, seem to participate in all three functions [45]. Thus, cross fostering can successfully occur when the first subsystem is not highly selective to the own offspring. ...
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Animal welfare is the result of physical and psychological well-being and is expected to occur if animals are free: (1) from hunger, thirst and malnutrition, (2) from discomfort, (3) from pain, (4) to express normal behavior, and (5) from fear and distress. Nevertheless, well-being is not a constant state but rather the result of certain brain dynamics underlying innate motivated behaviors and learned responses. Thus, by understanding the foundations of the neurobiology of behavior we fathom how emotions and well-being occur in the brain. Herein, we discuss the potential applicability of this approach for animal welfare. First, we provide a general view of the basic responses coordinated by the central nervous system from the processing of internal and external stimuli. Then, we discuss how those stimuli mediate activity in seven neurobiological systems that evoke innate emotional and behavioral responses that directly influence well-being and biological fitness. Finally, we discuss the basic mechanisms of learning and how it affects motivated responses and welfare.
... Calls were divided into two main USVs categorizations based on kHz: distress (between 18-35 kHz) and prosocial/appetitive (> 35 kHz) calls 25,26 . Calls within the distress frequency range (18)(19)(20)(21)(22)(23)(24)(25)(26)(27)(28)(29)(30)(31)(32)(33)(34)(35) were analyzed with a 2-way mixed effects ANOVA. Figure 2E ) as a ratio of the change in chain pull latency from baseline to test day (either PBS or B/M infusion). ...
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Empathy, the understanding of the emotional state of others, can be examined across species using the Perception Action Model, where shared affect promotes an action by “Observers” to aid a distressed “Target”. The anterior insula (AI) has garnered interest in empathic behavior due to its role integrating sensory and emotional information of self and other. In the following studies, the AI was inhibited pharmacologically and chemogenetically during targeted helping. We demonstrate the insula is active during, and is necessary for the maintenance of, targeted helping. Analysis of ultrasonic vocalizations revealed distress calls from Targets increased when Observers’ helping was attenuated due to insula inhibition. Targets’ elevated distress was directly correlated to Observers’ diminished helping behavior, suggesting emotional transfer between Observer and Target is blunted following Observer AI inhibition. Finally, the AI may selectively blunt targeted helping, as social exploration did not change in a social reward place conditioning task. These studies help further establish the anterior insula as a critical node in the empathic brain during targeted helping, even in the absence of direct social contact.
... Several studies have reported that oxytocin and oxytocin receptors in rodents affect social behavior, including affiliative behavior, social cognitive behavior, and empathic responses (Bartz et al., 2010;Marlin and Froemke, 2017;Rogers-Carter et al., 2018;Winslow and Insel, 2002;Young and Barrett, 2015). Especially in empathic responses, previous studies suggest that oxytocin has an effect across many species (Panksepp and Panksepp, 2013;Paradiso et al., 2021). In mice, intranasal oxytocin increases vicarious freezing in response to the fear of stranger mice (Pisansky et al., 2017). ...
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Several studies suggest that rodents show empathic responses and helping behavior toward others. We examined whether prairie voles would help conspecifics who were soaked in water by opening a door to a safe area. Door-opening latency decreased as task sessions progressed. Female and male voles stayed close to the soaked voles' side at equal rates and opened the door with similar latencies. When the conspecific was not soaked in water, the door-opening latency did not decrease. This suggests that the distress of the conspecific is necessary for learning to open the door and that the door-opening performed by prairie voles corresponds to helping behavior. Additionally, we examined the helping behavior in prairie voles in which oxytocin receptors were genetically knocked out. Oxytocin receptor knockout voles demonstrated less learning of the door-opening behavior and less interest in soaked conspecifics. This suggests that oxytocin is important for the emergence of helping behavior.
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Analysis of social media during the COVID-19 quarantine period in Mainland China provides access to a large amount of user-generated content for sentiment analysis during this unexpected and stressful time period. This study focuses on emotions that were communicated in the context of interactions between parents and young children to explore their emotional attitudes and emotional contagion. Results suggest that positive emotional attitudes were more prevalent in parent-child interactions, which contrasts with previous research. In comparison to their children, parents expressed more negative moods. Nonetheless, Chinese preschoolers and their parents influenced each other's emotions with bi-directional effects, providing evidence of emotional contagion. Parents’ emotional transmission sometimes resulted in passive suppression by the young children. Emotions were manifested more through physical or behavioral interactions as opposed to verbal statements of feelings, especially during parent to child transmissions. The transmission of emotions from children to parents consisted mainly of two types: children's emotional catharsis and children's active emotional agency. The discussion explores explanations for the observed emotional contagion of positive emotions between parents and children, considers the role of power and agency during emotional contagion, and discusses the effects of Chinese socio-cultural factors on the sentiment analysis.
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Empathy is critical to adjusting our behavior to the state of others. The past decade dramatically deepened our understanding of the biological origin of this capacity. We now understand that rodents robustly show emotional contagion for the distress of others via neural structures homologous to those involved in human empathy. Their propensity to approach others in distress strengthens this effect. Although rodents can also learn to favor behaviors that benefit others via structures overlapping with those of emotional contagion, they do so less reliably and more selectively. Together, this suggests evolution selected mechanisms for emotional contagion to prepare animals for dangers by using others as sentinels. Such shared emotions additionally can, under certain circumstances, promote prosocial behavior.
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Empathic pain has attracted the interest of a substantial number of researchers studying the social transfer of pain in the sociological, psychological, and neuroscience fields. However, the neural mechanism of empathic pain remains elusive. Here, we establish a long-term observational pain model in mice and find that glutamatergic projection from the insular cortex (IC) to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) is critical for the formation of observational pain. The selective activation or inhibition of the IC-BLA projection pathway strengthens or weakens the intensity of observational pain, respectively. The synaptic molecules are screened, and the upregulated synaptotagmin-2 and RIM3 are identified as key signals in controlling the increased synaptic glutamate transmission from the IC to the BLA. Together, these results reveal the molecular and synaptic mechanisms of a previously unidentified neural pathway that regulates observational pain in mice.
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Being phylogenetically close involves greater empathic perceptions towards other species. To explore this phenomenon, this study investigates the influence of neurocognitive predispositions to empathy on our perceptions of other organisms. Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized, among others, by weakened empathic skills. Our online survey involved a group of 202 raters with ASD and a control group of 1100 raters, who had to make choices to assess their empathic perceptions toward an extended photographic sampling of organisms. Results highlight that both groups present overall similar trends in their empathic preferences, with empathy scores significantly decreasing with the phylogenetic distance relatively to humans. However, the empathy score attributed to Homo sapiens in the ASD group represents a striking outlier in the yet very sharp overall correlation between empathy scores and divergence time, scoring our species as low as cold-blooded vertebrates. These results are consistent with previous studies, which emphasized that (1) understanding human beings would be more difficult for people with ASD than decoding “animals” and (2) that Theory of Mind impairment would not represent a global deficit in people with ASD but may relate to the mindreading of specifically human agents.
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This chapter introduces the argument that emotions are proactive in the human mind. It suggests that the evolution of the social functions of emotions and inter-subjective behaviours in infancy lead to cultural learning and language acquisition. Emotions associated with the three different orientations of the body to experiences - to the self, toward a communicative person, and to inspect a thing outside the body - suggest that the newborn infant's mind already has different intentional forms of consciousness appropriate for these different uses.
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The lack of ability to emphathize is central to many psychiatric conditions. Empathy is affected by neurodevelopment, brain pathology and psychiatric illness. Empathy is both a state and a trait characteristic. Empathy is measurable by neuropsychological assessment and neuroimaging techniques. This book, first published in 2007, specifically focuses on the role of empathy in mental illness. It starts with the clinical psychiatric perspective and covers empathy in the context of mental illness, adult health, developmental course, and explanatory models. Psychiatrists, psychotherapists and mental heath professionals will find this a very useful reference for their work. © Cambridge University Press 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.
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Introduction Empathy, the ability or process ‘to identify with and understand another's situation, feelings and motives’ would initially appear an unlikely candidate for neuroimaging research. Being aware of, and interpreting, other's behaviour on an emotional level is likely to be recently evolved and hence a ‘high-level’ cognitive process. Such complex brain processes are generally considered as unlikely to have a dedicated brain region serving them, or to be easy to isolate for examination. This chapter will describe how empathy has been dissected into a set of component cognitive processes, how brain imaging researchers have designed experiments to examine various combinations of these components, and what these finding may tell us about empathy's neurophysiological basis. A neuroimaging primer It may be useful to begin by summarizing the field of neuroimaging, and highlighting which aspects may be of relevance. Structural neuroimaging concerns the physical size and integrity of brain tissue, and in as much as there may be a relationship between size and function, if we could identify brain regions which were part of an empathy system or circuit, then investigating their size or integrity may be informative (presuming that we can objectively measure subjects’ behavioural empathic levels). Functional neuroimaging utilizes surrogate markers (normally regional blood flow) to infer which parts of the brain are ‘active’ whilst a specific task or mental process is undertaken. © Cambridge University Press 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.
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Psychotherapy that regularly yields liberating, lasting change was, in the last century, a futuristic vision, but it has now become reality, thanks to a convergence of remarkable advances in clinical knowledge and brain science. in Unlocking the Emotional Brain, authors Ecker, Ticic and Hulley equip readers to carry out focused, empathic therapy using the process found by researchers to induce memory reconsolidation, the recently discovered and only known process for actually unlocking emotional memory at the synaptic level. Emotional memory's tenacity is the familiar bane of therapists, and researchers have long believed that emotional memory forms indelible learning. Reconsolidation has overturned these views. It allows new learning to erase, not just suppress, the deep, unconscious, intensely problematic emotional learnings that form during childhood or in later tribulations and generate most of the symptoms that bring people to therapy. Readers will learn methods that precisely eliminate unwanted, ingrained emotional responses—whether moods, behaviors or thought patterns—causing no loss of ordinary narrative memory, while restoring clients' well-being. Numerous case examples show the versatile use of this process in AEDP, Coherence Therapy, EFT, EMDR and IPNB.
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Empathy has for a long time, since at least the seminal work of David Hume and Adam Smith, been seen as centrally important in relation to our capacity to gain a grasp of the content of other people's minds, and to predict and explain what they will think, feel, and do, and in relation to our capacity to respond to others ethically. In addition, empathy is now reinstated as being centrally important in aesthetics, in relation to our engagement with works of art and with fictional characters. This collection draws together nineteen original chapters on empathy in each of these areas, written by leading researchers across a wide range of disciplines, together with an extensive Introduction by the editors. The individual chapters reveal how important it is, in a wide range of fields of enquiry, to bring to bear an understanding of the role of empathy in its various guises. This volume will make a helpful and lasting contribution to the continuing debate, in philosophy, in psychology, and elsewhere.
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Many substances promote empathy, but the most common are ecstasy (MDMA) like and some newer chemical molecules like ketamine, phencyclidine and LSD. We suggest however that substances that are not inherently empathetic (e.g. smart drugs) can also fulfil this function. Research underlines the possible role of serotonergic neurotransmitters and the involvement of mirror neurons in this type of empathy seeking behaviour. From a clinical point of view, it is important to highlight the difference between these two situations, as it will impact on the type of care proposed and on the global understanding we have of drug consumption phenomena, especially among young people, most of whom are recreational users. Introduction In a society driven by ‘performance worship’ (Ehrenberg, 1991), and where the notion of individuality is breaking up, relationships between individuals are more and more based on power and competition. Solitude, feelings of incompleteness, withdrawal into oneself and difficulties being noticed by peers are signs of being a misfit and of poor psychosocial integration (Alexander, 1990; Erickson, 1963). The recourse to self-medication and psychoactive substances that can modify one's state of consciousness, mood and thought processes (sometimes using prescription medicines, but mainly illegal drugs) is continuously growing. This recourse to self-medication can be seen as a behavioural adaptation and a way of dealing with problems in life (addiction, marginality, criminality, self-consciousness, anxiety, depression and suicidality). © Cambridge University Press 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2009.