Séminaire au DIC: «Neural Basis of Empathy and Prosociality Across Species» par Christian Keysers

Séminaire ayant lieu dans le cadre du Doctorat en informatique cognitive, en collaboration avec le CRIA et l'ISC 


Christian KEYSERS

Jeudi le 24 novembre 2022


Vidéoconférence - zoom  : https://uqam.zoom.us/j/88481835073   


Titre : Neural Basis of Empathy and Prosociality Across Species



How does our brain make us feel what others feel? How does it motivate us to help others? In humans, the somatosensory, insular and cingulate cortices are activated both when feeling pain and while witnessing others feeling pain. Altering brain activity in these brain regions alters emotional contagion and prosociality. In humans, activity in the somatosensory cortex of observers predicts helping; perturbing that activity perturbs helping. Single cell recordings in rats show that neurons involved in an animal’s own pain become reactivated while the animal witnesses another animal in pain. This occurs in area 24, the rodent homologue of the anterior cingulate cortex in which humans show activation while witnessing the pain of others. This region plays a causal role in sharing the emotions of others. The data show the existence of an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that maps the pain of others onto an observer’s own pain circuitry and triggers emotional contagion. When a rat can choose between a lever that produces food for herself, and one that produces food for herself but triggers a foot-shock to another rat, she learns to avoid the shock-lever. Deactivating area 24 abolishes this harm aversion, suggesting a causal link between emotional contagion and helping. These experiments suggest that emotion-sharing is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that allows humans and other animals to better prepare for unseen dangers by tuning into the state of those that have already detected them. This selfishly beneficial mechanism can promote prosociality, but it does so in fewer animals and situations than does the emotional contagion itself. I will close with evidence that humans can voluntarily regulate how strongly they recruit their empathy, allowing us to leverage this ability when it is most helpful, and to downregulate it when it would be harmful.



Christian Keysers studied how mirror neurons process the actions of others with Giacomo Rizzolatti. With Valeria Gazzola, he built the Social Brain Lab, Groningen, where their human fMRI work showed that participants activate their own actions, emotions and sensations while they witness those of others; this neural marker of empathy is reduced in patients with psychopathy. Since 2010, he leads the comparative social neuroscience effort in the Social Brain Lab, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Amsterdam where he investigates the neural basis of empathy and prosociality across species: 

 Keysers, C. (2011). The empathic brain https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2022.05.005

Keysers, C., & Gazzola, V. (2014). Hebbian learning and predictive mirror neurons for actions, sensations and emotions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 369(1644), 20130175. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006178/ 

BilletteriechevronRightCreated with Sketch.

clockCreated with Sketch.Date / heure

jeudi 24 novembre 2022
10 h 30

pinCreated with Sketch.Lieu

UQAM - En ligne

dollarSignCreated with Sketch.Prix


personCreated with Sketch.Renseignements

Visiter le site webchevronRightCreated with Sketch.