Speaker: Prof. Jamie Ward University of Sussex, UK

Time: 15:00-16:30, April 11th, 2019

Venue: #1206, Wangkezhen Building, Peking University

Abstract: Does seeing someone else in pain utilize any of the same neural resources as the physical experience of pain? Studies attempting to address this have revealed an inconsistent picture, and this presentation will explore one reason for this inconsistency: individual differences. Specifically, using a new measure (Vicarious Pain Questionnaire) we show that up to a quarter of the neurotypical population report conscious pain-like experiences when seeing others in pain. This is linked to functional differences in the brain (greater EEG mu suppression, more somatosensory activity in fMRI), structural differences (shown by VBM), as well as a pattern of wider cognitive differences (questionnaire measures of empathy and objective measures of body ownership assessed with rubber hand illusion). Thus, there is a surprising heterogeneity in 'normal' responsiveness to seeing others in pain that has hitherto been unappreciated by the large volume of studies exploring empathy for pain. This has important implications for social neuroscience models of empathy more generally.

Host: Prof. Shihui Han