Jean Decety: Empathy workshop


Workshop with Jean Decety, Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, The University of Chicago, USA


10.15-12.00. Jean Decety: "Moral sensitivity and empathy: a social neurodevelopmental approach"

13.15-15.00. Jean Decety: "To What Extent Is the Experience of Empathy Mediated by Shared Neural Circuits"

Abstract 1: Empathy-related responding, including caring and sympathetic concern, is thought to motivate prosocial behavior, inhibit aggression and pave the way to moral reasoning. I will present a series of studies that examined the neurodevelopment of moral sensitivity and empathy across childhood to adulthood (from 4 to 24 yrs) by probing the neural underpinnings of moral cognition using ecologically valid, morally-laden scenarios, and delimiting the impact of individual dispositions.I will argue that understanding morality and empathy is of considerable intrinsic interest, and of direct relevance to clinical populations, such as developmental psychopathy and individuals with antisocial behavior

Abstract 2: This talk selectively reviews the neurophysiological evidence for shared neural circuits (supposedly implemented by mirror neurons) as the mechanism underlying empathy. I will argue that while the mirror neuron system plays a role in motor resonance, it is not possible to conclude that this system is critically involved in emotion recognition, and there is little evidence for its role in empathy and sympathy. In addition there is modest support from neurological observations that lesion of the regions involved in the mirror neuron system leads to dysfunction in empathy, whereas damage of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is associated with such impairment. To significantly advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying empathy, research needs finer conceptualization, better designed paradigms, and integration with knowledge from lesion studies.

Participation in the workshop is free but prior registration is required.
Registration is closed.

Organized by Dan Zahavi