While we watch a movie, we share the experiences of the actors we observe: our heart for instance starts beating faster while we see an actor slip from the roof of a tall building. Why? Specific brain areas are involved when we perform certain actions or have certain emotions or sensations. Interestingly, some of these areas are also recruited when we simply observe someone else performing similar actions, having similar sensations or having similar emotions. These areas called 'shared circuits' transform what we see into what we would have done or felt in the same situation. With such brain areas, understanding other people is not an effort of explicit thought but becomes an intuitive sharing of their emotions, sensations and actions. Through the investigation of shared circuits, our lab attempts to understand the neural basis of empathy and its dysfunctions.
|Read more about our research in Christian Keysers's new book The Empathic Brain available at amazon US, EU or UK (depending on where you live)
The Social Brain Lab is generously financed by the European Commission ( ERC grant to Christian Keysers), numerous grants of the Dutch Science Foundation (N.W.O.) and the National Initiative for Brain and Cognition.