Creating Connections 2016 Online - Between Ourselves

  • Download Available by December 1, 2016
  • Presented by Between Ourselves
  • $49.00 per person
  • 1.5 CE Hours (available for $20 after the event through R. Cassidy)

Between Ourselves: Brain Mechanisms for Empathy

Human empathy and prosocial behavior take many forms. How do we make sense of all these different behavioral phenotypes? While it may be tempting to carefully describe these behaviors and classify them into a general taxonomy, this approach is not likely to generate deep insights into the mechanisms generating empathic behavior. I suggest that the different behavioral forms that empathy takes are generated by two continuously interacting processing streams in the brain. The first one is a bottom upprocessing stream that allows us to attune effortlessly to other people and that is supported by neural mechanisms of mirroring (mirror neurons). The second one is a top down processing stream that allows us to shape and control the bottom up information. Both processing streams need each other to function well. Without bottom up information, the top down control would have little data to process. Without the top down control, we would be swept away by bottom up information. I will present brain imaging and neuromodulation data that provide some initial understanding of the complex interactions between bottom up processing and top down control that generate empathic behaviors. I will also discuss brain imaging data suggesting gender differences in the balance between bottom up processing and top down control.


  • Learn the anatomy and physiology of the mirror neuron system
  • Learn about neural systems of cognitive control relevant to prosocial behavior
  • Learn how brain activity can be modulated non-invasively
  • Learn about gender differences in empathy

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