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Conference (in English): The construction of an Empathic Brain by Professor Dr. Pier Francesco Ferrari

Contributed by: Interdisciplinary European Academy of Sciences - Académie Européenne Interdisciplinaire des Sciences

From 2017-10-02 to 2017-10-02, France
Pier Francesco Ferrari is Directeur de Recherche au CNRS, Institut des Sciences Cognitives Marc Jeannerod, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon, France
Place: Maison de l'AX, 5 rue Descartes, F-75005 Paris, France
Date: October 2, 2017
Time: 17:00
Empathy is the ability to understand and share in the internal states of others. It is a complex, multidimensional phenomenon, which involves a number of functional processes, including emotion recognition, emotion contagion, as well as more complex cognitive abilities in which the response to the emotions of others does not involve a sharing of the same internal states, thus facilitating altruistic and prosocial responses. Investigations at neurophysiological levels demonstrated that one core mechanism in empathy is mediated through an action-perception mechanism in which the motor system activates shared representations between the observer and the agent who is displaying an emotional/affective response. Thus, our witnessing of others’ emotions is never passive, but is an active process of mirroring, or simulating, the same affective experience. Some forms of empathy have been described in other primates and animals, indicating that empathy is an ancient evolutionary heritage probably evolved to support inter-subjective exchanges in highly social species and to facilitate cohesion in a group.

In the last few years, empathy has been investigated from a developmental perspective in both human and nonhuman primates. Studies on the effects of early social experiences between the caregiver and the infant have highlighted the importance of early periods of sensitivity in the construction of representation of others’ affective experience. Disturbances in early social experiences might lead to discrepancies in the correspondence between the internal representations of others’ experience and the actual observed affective experience. I will explore some of these themes in the attempt to draw some theoretical accounts about how critical is the action-perception neural coupling for the emergence of an empathic brain and for the construction of shared experiences/representations.



    Interdisciplinary European Academy of Sciences - Académie Européenne Interdisciplinaire des Sciences
    Rue Descartes 5
    F-75005 Paris


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