Neuronal correlates of empathy and mindreading

Martin Brüne, Universität Bochum [back to top]
Empathy and mindreading are related mental processes that activate an extended neural network connecting the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes with important input from limbic and forebrain structures. While functional brain imaging studies have greatly advanced our knowledge about the localisation of the neural network, relatively little is known about the neuronal correlates of empathy and mindreading. One exception to this is the “mirror neuron system” (MNS) that seems to play an important role in basic empathic responses such as emotional contagion, but perhaps also in action prediction. In the present talk, it is argued that empathy and mindreading to some degree overlap in content, but that the two can also be distinguished from one another, or may even be diametrically opposite players, depending on the context in which empathy and mindreading are embedded. The study of psychopathological syndromes may help disentangle empathy and mindreading, and thus inform the theoretical underpinnings of these two fundamental mechanisms in human social interaction.
[back to top]
About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2010 RUB