4th Annual Meeting of the International Multisensory Research Forum
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India Morrison

Pain empathy: visual perception of pain in others
Single Paper Presentation

India Morrison
University of Wales, Bangor

Donna Lloyd
University of Liverpool

Neil Roberts
University of Liverpool

Arshad Zaman
University of Liverpool

Philippa Walker
University of Liverpool

Sarah Wilson
University of Liverpool

     Abstract ID Number: 119
     Full text: Not available
     Last modified: May 23, 2003

Simply seeing a painful event happening to another person can often evoke immediate affective and motor responses (like wincing or withdrawal) that would be appropriate for someone experiencing the situation first hand. Such vicarious responses might involve the representation of visual information by areas also receptive for pain. In this fMRI study, subjects underwent a mildly painful mechanical stimulus (a sharp toothpick pressed into the fingertip). In another condition, they viewed a video of a similar stimulus being administered to someone else's hand. A region-of-interest analysis focusing on anterior cingulate (area 24b), which was implicated under similar conditions in a human single-unit study (Hutchison, 1999), revealed that this area responds specifically to both tactile and visual pain cues. This suggests that merely viewing a painful stimulus evokes responses in areas that are involved in the coding of pain itself. These results may represent the first imaging evidence for "mirror-neuron-like" cell populations in affect-related areas, and provide a starting-point for further work in understanding the neural substrates of empathy for pain.

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