Dissecting the Neural Mechanisms Mediating Empathy

Emotion Review 3 (1):92-108 (2011)
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Empathy is thought to play a key role in motivating prosocial behavior, guiding our preferences and behavioral responses, and providing the affective and motivational base for moral development. While these abilities have traditionally been examined using behavioral methods, recent work in evolutionary biology, developmental and cognitive neuroscience has begun to shed light on the neural circuitry that instantiate them. The purpose of this article is to critically examine the current knowledge in the field of affective neuroscience and provide an integrative and comprehensive view of the computational mechanisms that underlie empathy. This framework is of general interest and relevance for theory as well as for assisting future research in the domains of affective developmental neuroscience and psychopathology



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