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Some Recent EEG and other studies relevant to Empathy and Compassion

Clifford Saron, PhD Center for Mind and Brain

MIND Institute
UC Davis

Trends in Cognitive Sciences, February 2012, Vol. 16, No. 2

Cognition materializes in an interpersonal space. The emergence of complex behaviors requires the coordination of actions among individuals according to a shared set of rules. Despite the central role of other individuals in shaping ones mind, most cognitive studies focus on processes that occur within a single individual. We call for a shift from a single-brain to a multi-brain frame of reference. We argue that in many cases the neural processes in one brain are coupled to the neural processes in another brain via the transmission of a signal through the environment. Brain-to-brain coupling constrains and shapes the actions of each individual in a social network, leading to complex joint behaviors that could not have emerged in isolation.

Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright 2004 Empathy Quotient

I can easily tell if someone else wants to enter a conversation. I find it difficult to explain to others things that I understand easily, when they don't understand it first time. I really enjoy caring for other people. I find it hard to know what to do in a social situation. People often tell me that I went too far in driving my point home in a discussion. It doesn't bother me too much if I am late meeting a friend. Friendships and relationships are just too difficult, so I tend not to bother with them. I often find it difficult to judge if something is rude or polite. When I was a child, I enjoyed cutting up worms to see what would happen. I can pick up quickly if someone says one thing but means another. I find it easy to put myself in somebody else's shoes. I am good at predicting how someone will feel. I can't always see why someone should have felt offended by a remark.

Observation of own quartet performance

NeuroImage 60 (2012) 105116

Brain Research 2012

6 Sec / 6 Stim 6 Sec / 6 Stim

6 Sec / 6 Stim


Significant correlations were observed between scores from the perspective taking subscale of the IRI and P50 amplitudes during the pain condition over left centro-parietal (r2=0.50, p=0.026) and parietal (r2=0.60, p=0.005) brain regions. Similarly, scores from the perspective taking subscale were also correlated with P50 amplitudes during the touch condition over left parietal brain regions (r2=0.47, p=0.039).


Heart Rate Shows Reaction to Slap

Slater et al, 2010 PLOS

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