Netherlands: empathy can not only people




The ability to empathize with others is often considered exclusively human, because it is the result of complex reasoning and abstract thought. But in fact, this ability may be the result of simple brain processes, so there is no reason to believe that monkeys and other animals can be deprived of the ability to empathize.

These conclusions were reached by Christian Keyzers of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and his colleagues. They arranged a clever experiment: the subjects, placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, touched his feet while they watched a video of how to touch other people, or how to come across various objects.

To the scientists' surprise, the sensory area of the brain, the secondary somatosensory cortex, which is thought to respond only to physical touch, much more active when observing the way the touch of others. This means that empathy does not require the participation of a particular brain region. It turns out that this ability could almost feel what the other person is going through.

What is even more surprising observation of collisions of objects spawned the same activity. This means that we can feel sympathy without building complex theories about how the other person feels. For example, after we have felt what it means to touch, the brain is ready to create the same feeling when we see how the touch of others.

Battery News, 29.04.2004 16:18

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