The role of shared neural activations, mirror neurons, and morality in empathy--a critical comment

Author(s)
Claus Lamm, Jasminka Majdandzic
Abstract

In the last decade, the phenomenon of empathy has received widespread attention by the field of social neuroscience. This has provided fresh insights for theoretical models of empathy, and substantially influenced the academic and public conceptions about this complex social skill. The present paper highlights three key issues which are often linked to empathy, but which at the same time might obscure our understanding of it. These issues are: (1) shared neural activations and whether these can be interpreted as evidence for simulation accounts of empathy; (2) the causal link of empathy to our presumed mirror neuron system; and (3) the question whether increasing empathy will result in better moral decisions and behaviors. The aim of our review is to provide the basis for critically evaluating our current understanding of empathy, and its public reception, and to inspire new research directions.

Organisation(s)
Department of Cognition, Emotion, and Methods in Psychology, Vienna Cognitive Science Hub
Journal
Neuroscience Research
Volume
90
Pages
15-24
No. of pages
10
ISSN
0168-0102
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neures.2014.10.008
Publication date
01-2015
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
Brain research
Keywords
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/the-role-of-shared-neural-activations-mirror-neurons-and-morality-in-empathya-critical-comment(f86d1901-2bd3-42b8-82d9-17b7498bdc01).html