Human and animal-directed empathy during social interactions: a multi-method approach with hemodynamic (fNIRS), electrocortical (EEG) and autonomic measures

Michela Balconi, Maria Elide Vanutelli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Objective: Our relationships are characterized by interactions with other humans, but also with animal companions. Such interactions are mediated by empathic competencies which, however, conventionally refers to emotional concerns for another person. Research revealed that human-animal relationships provide opportunities to increase empathy, but the presence of animal-directed empathy and its neural correlates have still to be explored. The present study aimed to investigate common and specifi c neural correlates while viewing intra and interspecies interactions, with particular attention to their valence, and to personality components. Methods: Participants were submitted to positive, negative and neutral pictures while hemodynamic (NIRS), electrocortical (EEG) and autonomic measures (heart rate, HR; electrodermal activity, EDA) were simultaneously recorded. Results: Data showed the presence of common patterns of activation for both interactions (human- and animal-directed), suggesting they are not mutually exclusive, but diff erentially predominant. Anyway the presence of some diff erences also emerged, suggesting the way we process diff erent interactions may also be specific. Conclusions: Results suggest that empathy is not a response we save for our conspecifi c, but can also be extended to animals. Key message: The presence of homologous but also partially diff erentiated channels for the development of empathic competencies through types of interactions was underlined.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts «15th European Congress on Clinical Neurophysiology»
Pages127
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event15th European Congress on Clinical Neurophysiology - Brno
Duration: 30 Sep 20153 Oct 2015

Conference

Conference15th European Congress on Clinical Neurophysiology
CityBrno
Period30/9/153/10/15

Keywords

  • EEG
  • Empathy
  • Inter-species
  • fNIRS

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