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Title: Neuroanatomical and functional correlates of cognitive and affective empathy in young healthy adults
Author: Uribe, Carme
Puig Davi, Arnau
Abós, Alexandra
Baggio, Hugo César
Junqué i Plaja, Carme, 1955-
Segura i Fàbregas, Bàrbara
Keywords: Empatia
Issue Date: 1-May-2019
Publisher: Frontiers Media
Abstract: Neural substrates of empathy are mainly investigated through task-related functional MRI. However, the functional neural mechanisms at rest underlying the empathic response have been poorly studied. We aimed to investigate neuroanatomical and functional substrates of cognitive and affective empathy. The self-reported empathy questionnaire Cognitive and Affective Empathy Test (TECA), T1 and T2∗-weighted 3-Tesla MRI were obtained from 22 healthy young females (mean age: 19.6 ± 2.4) and 20 males (mean age: 22.5 ± 4.4). Groups of low and high empathy were established for each scale. FreeSurfer v6.0 was used to estimate cortical thickness and to automatically segment the subcortical structures. FSL v5.0.10 was used to compare resting-state connectivity differences between empathy groups in six defined regions: the orbitofrontal, cingulate, and insular cortices, and the amygdala, hippocampus, and thalamus using a non-parametric permutation approach. The high empathy group in the Perspective Taking subscale (cognitive empathy) had greater thickness in the left orbitofrontal and ventrolateral frontal cortices, bilateral anterior cingulate, superior frontal, and occipital regions. Within the affective empathy scales, subjects with high Empathic Distress had higher thalamic volumes than the low-empathy group. Regarding resting-state connectivity analyses, low-empathy individuals in the Empathic Happiness scale had increased connectivity between the orbitofrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate when compared with the high-empathy group. In conclusion, from a structural point of view, there is a clear dissociation between the brain correlates of affective and cognitive factors of empathy. Neocortical correlates were found for the cognitive empathy dimension, whereas affective empathy is related to lower volumes in subcortical structures. Functionally, affective empathy is linked to connectivity between the orbital and cingulate cortices.
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It is part of: Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2019, vol. 13, num. 85
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ISSN: 1662-5153
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Medicina)
Articles publicats en revistes (IDIBAPS: Institut d'investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer)

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