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Neurobiologiczne podstawy empatii

Author(s): Kamila Jankowiak-Siuda | Katarzyna Siemieniuk | Anna Grabowska

Journal: Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia
ISSN 1896-6764

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 51;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Keywords: empathy | mirror neurons | perspective taking | ACC | AI

Empathy is an ability to share and understand emotionalstate of other person. In this article, based on researchresults of cognitive and social neuroscience as well asneuropsychology, we show that empathy is a complexprocess engaging both bottom-up and top-down neuralprocessing. Functioning of the former one is probablybased on mirror neurons system that providesphysiological mechanism for direct sharing of emotionalstate of other person. Results of neuroimaging studiesshow that in order to understand others” pain we usethe same emotional representations that are engagedwhen we react to our own pain.Activation changes are observed mostly in anteriorcingulate cortex, anterior insula and somatosensory cortex. Thelatter top-down processing is based on control andinhibition mechanisms in which mainly prefrontal cortexareas are engaged. That complex process enablesperspective taking – i.e. fully imagining andunderstanding what other person feels. Aspectsof individual differences in empathy level are importantissues for both scientific and therapeutic considerations.Therefore, different factors are discussed that modulatelevel of empathy measured by changes in activationof related brain areas.
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