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Empathy & Violence

May 12, 2010

Empathy and aggression share the same circuits in the brain.


The brain’s empathy circuit. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The ability to empathize with other people is controlled by the prefrontal cortex of the brain and an area of the temporal lobe called the amygdala. But according to Luis Moya, a psychobiologist at the University of Valencia in Spain, studies have shown that the same brain regions are activated during aggressive acts as well.

LUIS MOYA (University of Valencia):
Which means that these circuits can control both empathy and violence. When someone has the ability of putting himself in another person’s position it is more difficult for him or her to be violent. At least in a particular moment.

He says the findings have implications for criminal rehabilitation and broader social problems.

Maybe empathy is the other side of the coin of violence, so maybe we increase empathy we could reduce violence and work for a more peaceful society.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.