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Journal Article

The neural networks underlying reappraisal of empathy for pain

MPS-Authors

Rohr,  Christiane
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Schaare,  Herma Lina
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Naor_2020.pdf
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Citation

Naor, N., Rohr, C., Schaare, H. L., Limbachia, C., Shamay-Tsoory, S., & Okon-Singer, H. (2020). The neural networks underlying reappraisal of empathy for pain. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 15(7), 733-744. doi:10.1093/scan/nsaa094.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-A85C-5
Abstract
Emotion regulation plays a central role in empathy. Only by successfully regulating our own emotions can we reliably use them in order to interpret the content and valence of others’ emotions correctly. In an functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-based experiment, we show that regulating one’s emotion via reappraisal modulated biased emotional intensity ratings following an empathy for pain manipulation. Task-based analysis revealed increased activity in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) when painful emotions were regulated using reappraisal, whereas empathic feelings that were not regulated resulted in increased activity bilaterally in the precuneus, supramarginal gyrus and middle frontal gyrus (MFG), as well as the right parahippocampal gyrus. Functional connectivity analysis indicated that the right IFG plays a role in the regulation of empathy for pain, through its connections with regions in the empathy for pain network. Furthermore, these connections were further modulated as a function of the type of regulation used: in sum, our results suggest that accurate empathic judgment (i.e. empathy that is unbiased) relies on a complex interaction between neural regions involved in emotion regulation and regions associated with empathy for pain. Thus, demonstrating the importance of emotion regulation in the formulation of complex social systems and sheds light on the intricate network implicated in this complex process.