Reader Comments

Post a new comment on this article

affective component of empathy

Posted by jcbradley on 08 Nov 2007 at 18:59 GMT

This is a very impressive demonstration of empathic behavior but is that correlated with the subjective experience of empathy, such as that induced by other agents such as MDMA?

RE: affective component of empathy

astanton replied to jcbradley on 08 Nov 2007 at 20:06 GMT

Since we ran this as a hormonal study without using fMRI, it is not possible to separate the type of empathy experience; we could separate and say that generosity is more empathy related than altruism related.

RE: affective component of empathy

pzak replied to jcbradley on 09 Nov 2007 at 19:00 GMT

MDMA has recently been shown to induce oxytocin (OT) release in animals and humans, and therefore may increase empathy. While MDMA is a stimulant and psychedelic, OT is mildly sedating and does not produce a "high". The use of OT in this study sought to push on the "empathy lever" in the brain and see what occurred. The effect was stronger than we anticipated, yet subjects were not cognitively impaired. We did not ask subjects about their subjective empathy state, but interpret those on OT has having more empathy based on our, and others', previous research.

RE: RE: affective component of empathy

jcbradley replied to pzak on 15 Nov 2007 at 10:50 GMT

Very interesting that connection between OT release and MDMA and the separation of euphoria from empathy. Self reports of the subjective empathy state would certainly add some light.