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Neurosci Lett. 2017 Aug 10;655:68-75. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2017.06.058. Epub 2017 Jul 1.

Neural functional correlates of empathic face processing.

Author information

1
NESMOS Department (Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Sensory Organs), Sapienza University - Rome, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, and Unit of Psychiatry, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy; Department of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, "P. Alberto Mileno Onlus" Foundation, "San Francesco" Institute, Vasto, Chieti, Italy.
2
NESMOS Department (Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Sensory Organs), Sapienza University - Rome, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, and Unit of Psychiatry, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy.
3
NESMOS Department (Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Sensory Organs), Sapienza University - Rome, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, and Unit of Psychiatry, Sant'Andrea Hospital, Rome, Italy. Electronic address: chiara.rapinesi@uniroma1.it.
4
Resident in Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.
5
Crossing Dialogues Association, Rome, Italy.
6
Studio Multiverso, ATC-SITCC, Rome, Italy.
7
Faculty of Psychology, "Guglielmo Marconi" University, Rome, Mental Health Department ASL RM 2 and Addictions' Observatory (ODDPSS), Rome, Italy.
8
Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Empathy is a human trait related to the ability to share someone else's feelings, and emotional face processing is one of its measures. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) studies showed significant neural correlates of empathic face processing. We aimed to identify those brain areas most consistently involved in empathy for emotional faces.

METHODS:

We carried ALE meta-analysis of whole-brain data from fMRI studies during empathic face-processing tasks. We included 23 studies conducted on a total of 568 participants (247 males and 321 females, mean age 32.2 years).

RESULTS:

Emotional vs. control faces processing significantly correlated with activations of the left anterior cingulate cortex (BA 32), right precentral gyrus (BA 6), left amygdala, right superior frontal gyrus (BA 9), left middle occipital gyrus (BA 37), right insula (BA 13), left putamen, and left posterior cingulate cortex (BA 31).

CONCLUSIONS:

Empathy is a complex process correlating with bi-hemispheric cortico-limbic activations involved in emotional cue processing, self-other/same-different discrimination, perspective-taking, theory of mind, emotional arousal, and decision-making.

KEYWORDS:

ALE meta-analysis; Emotional face processing; Empathy; Functional neuroimaging; fMRI

PMID:
28673832
DOI:
10.1016/j.neulet.2017.06.058
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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