Please wait a minute...
Brain Science Advances  2019, Vol. 5 Issue (4): 256-264    doi: 10.26599/BSA.2019.9050022
Review Article     
Differences between empathy for face and body pain: Cognitive and neural responses
Xiong Li, Yinya Zhang, Binyang Xiang, Jing Meng
Key Laboratory of Applied Psychology, Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing 401331, China
Download: PDF (932 KB)      HTML
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  

Empathy for pain is a hotspot in the field of empathy research because of its specific cognitive and neural mechanism. Currently, studies of empathy for pain can be classified into two categories based on the body regions receiving the painful stimulus, i.e., empathy for face pain and empathy for body pain, which conveys painful information based on individuals’ faces or body parts, respectively. Although the existing evidence revealed differences between these two kinds of pain empathy regarding the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms, the current studies tend to confuse these findings. Therefore, we summarized the differences between empathy for face and body pain, mainly regarding the behavioral reactivity tendency, brain activations, and electrophysiological (EEG) signals. These differences probably stem from the fact that the human face contains more emotional information, while other body parts contain more perceptual information. Thus, future studies should identify the distinctions between empathy for face and body pain, to explore further how empathy for face pain is affected by the facial information of others and focus on empathy for face pain in individuals with psychopathological disorders. Furthermore, the specific reasons for these distinctions and their underlying neuromechanisms deserve to be further reviewed.



Key wordsempathy      empathy for pain      face      cognitive and neural mechanisms     
Received: 31 October 2019      Published: 16 March 2020
Corresponding Authors: Jing Meng   
Cite this article:

Xiong Li, Yinya Zhang, Binyang Xiang, Jing Meng. Differences between empathy for face and body pain: Cognitive and neural responses. Brain Science Advances, 2019, 5(4): 256-264.

URL:

http://bsa.tsinghuajournals.com/10.26599/BSA.2019.9050022     OR     http://bsa.tsinghuajournals.com/Y2019/V5/I4/256

8] with permission of the authors.">
Fig.?1 Images used to assess empathy for face pain. Left panel: images showing neutral faces receiving painful stimuli. Right panel: images showing neutral faces receiving non-painful stimuli. Reproduced from Ref. [<xref ref-type="bibr" rid="R8">8</xref>] with permission of the authors.
2] with permission of Springer.">
Fig.?2 Images used to assess empathy for body pain. Left panel: images showing body parts receiving painful stimuli. Right panel: images showing body parts receiving non-painful stimuli. Reproduced from Ref. [<xref ref-type="bibr" rid="R2">2</xref>] with permission of Springer.
[1]   Singer T, Lamm C. The social neuroscience of empathy. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009, 1156: 81-96.
[2]   Meng J, Hu L, Shen L, et al. Emotional primes modulate the responses to others’ pain: an ERP study. Exp Brain Res. 2012, 220(3/4): 277-286.
[3]   Lamm C, Decety J, Singer T. Meta-analytic evidence for common and distinct neural networks associated with directly experienced pain and empathy for pain. Neuroimage. 2011, 54(3): 2492-2502.
[4]   Meng J, Chen YG, Huang XT. Influencing factors and the mechanism of empathy for pain (in Chinese). Adv Psychol Sci. 2010, 18(3): 432-440.
[5]   Fan Y, Han SH. Temporal dynamic of neural mechanisms involved in empathy for pain: an event- related brain potential study. Neuropsychologia. 2008, 46(1): 160-173.
[6]   Xiang YE, Wang YC, Gao SH, et al. Neural mechanisms with respect to different paradigms and relevant regulatory factors in empathy for pain. Front Neurosci. 2018, 12: 507.
[7]   Gu XS, Han SH. Attention and reality constraints on the neural processes of empathy for pain. Neuroimage. 2007, 36(1): 256-267.
[8]   Li X, Li Z, Xiang B, et al. Empathy for pain in Individuals with autistic traits influenced by attention cues: Evidence from an ERP study (in Chinese). Acta Psychol Sin. 2020, 52(3): 294-306.
[9]   Meng J, Shen L, Li ZS, et al. Top-down effects on empathy for pain in adults with autistic traits. Sci Rep. 2019, 9(1): 8022.
[10]   Leslie KR, Johnson-Frey SH, Grafton ST. Functional imaging of face and hand imitation: towards a motor theory of empathy. Neuroimage. 2004, 21(2): 601-607.
[11]   Vachon-Presseau E, Roy M, Martel MO, et al. Neural processing of sensory and emotional-communicative information associated with the perception of vicarious pain. Neuroimage. 2012, 63(1): 54-62.
[12]   Coll MP. Meta-analysis of ERP investigations of pain empathy underlines methodological issues in ERP research. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2018, 13(10): 1003-1017.
[13]   Gao XM, Weng L, Zhou Q, et al. Dose violent offenders have lower capacity of empathy for pain: evidence from ERPs (in Chinese). Acta Psychol Sin. 2015, 47(4): 478-487.
[14]   Meng J, Shen L, Li ZS, et al. Top-down attention modulation on the perception of others' vocal pain: an event-related potential study. Neuropsychologia. 2019, 133: 107177.
[15]   Meng J, Jackson T, Chen H, et al. Pain perception in the self and observation of others: an ERP investigation. Neuroimage. 2013, 72: 164-173.
[16]   Xu XJ, Zuo XY, Wang XY, et al. Do You feel my pain? Racial group membership modulates empathic neural responses. J Neurosci. 2009, 29(26): 8525-8529.
[17]   Fabi S, Leuthold H. Racial bias in empathy: Do we process dark- and fair-colored hands in pain differently? An EEG study. Neuropsychologia. 2018, 114: 143-157.
[18]   Avenanti A, Sirigu A, Aglioti SM. Racial bias reduces empathic sensorimotor resonance with other-race pain. Curr Biol. 2010, 20(11): 1018-1022.
[19]   Han SH, Fan Y, Xu XJ, et al. Empathic neural responses to others’ pain are modulated by emotional contexts. Hum Brain Mapp. 2009, 30(10): 3227-3237.
[20]   Cui F, Ma N, Luo YJ. Moral judgment modulates neural responses to the perception of other's pain: an ERP study. Sci Rep. 2016, 6: 20851.
[21]   Itier RJ, Taylor MJ. N170 or N1? Spatiotemporal differences between object and face processing using ERPs. Cereb Cortex. 2004, 14(2): 132-142.
[22]   Itier RJ, Taylor MJ. Inversion and contrast polarity reversal affect both encoding and recognition processes of unfamiliar faces: a repetition study using ERPs. Neuroimage. 2002, 15(2): 353-372.
[23]   Ibá?ez A, Hurtado E, Lobos A, et al. Subliminal presentation of other faces (but not own face) primes behavioral and evoked cortical processing of empathy for pain. Brain Res. 2011, 1398: 72-85.
[24]   Song J, Guo FB, Zhang Z, et al. Interpersonal distance influences on pain empathy: Friends priming effect (in Chinese). Acta Psychol Sin. 2016, 48(7): 833-844.
[25]   Mu Y, Fan Y, Mao LH, et al. Event-related theta and alpha oscillations mediate empathy for pain. Brain Res. 2008, 1234: 128-136.
[26]   Cheng YW, Yang CY, Lin CP, et al. The perception of pain in others suppresses somatosensory oscillations: a magnetoencephalography study. Neuroimage. 2008, 40(4): 1833-1840.
[27]   Li X, Meng XX, Li H, et al. The impact of mood on empathy for pain: Evidence from an EEG study. Psychophysiology. 2017, 54(9): 1311-1322.
[28]   Coll MP, Tremblay MB, Jackson PL. The effect of tDCS over the right temporo-parietal junction on pain empathy. Neuropsychologia. 2017, 100: 110-119.
[29]   Enzi B, Amirie S, Brüne M. Empathy for pain-related dorsolateral prefrontal activity is modulated by angry face perception. Exp Brain Res. 2016, 234(11): 3335-3345.
[30]   Stirrat M, Perrett DI. Valid facial cues to cooperation and trust: male facial width and trustworthiness. Psychol Sci. 2010, 21(3): 349-354.
[31]   Rhodes G. The evolutionary psychology of facial beauty. Annu Rev Psychol. 2006, 57: 199-226.
[32]   Adler N, Dvash J, Shamay-Tsoory SG. Empathic embarrassment accuracy in autism spectrum disorder. Autism Res. 2015, 8(3): 241-249.
[33]   Khorrami A, Tehrani-Doost M, Esteky H. Comparison between face and object processing in youths with autism spectrum disorder: an event related potentials study. Iran J Psychiatry. 2013, 8(4): 179-187.
[1] Ruolei Gu, Jie Liu, Fang Cui. Pain and social decision-making: New insights from the social framing effect[J]. Brain Science Advances, 2019, 5(4): 221-238.
[2] Xin Hu, Jingjing Chen, Fei Wang, Dan Zhang. Ten challenges for EEG-based affective computing[J]. Brain Science Advances, 2019, 5(1): 1-20.