Remember as we empathize. Do brain mechanisms engaged in autobiographical memory retrieval causally affect empathy awareness? A combined TMS and EEG registered report

Federica Meconi, John Hodsoll, Zheni Goranova, Giulio Degano, Nicolo Di Lello, Carlo Miniussi, Alessio Avenanti, Carmel Mevorach

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Abstract

Social interactions are partly driven by our ability to empathize—the capacity to share and understand others’ inner states. While a growing body of evidence suggests a link between past experiences and empathy, to what degree empathy is dependent on our own previous experiences (autobiographical memories, AMs) is still unclear. Whereas neuroimaging studies have shown wide overlapping brain networks underpinning AM and empathic processes, studies on clinical populations with memory loss have not always shown empathy is impaired. The current transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography study will seek to shed light on this neuropsychological puzzle by testing whether self-perceived empathy is causally linked to AM retrieval. Cortical activity, together with self-rating of empathy, will be recorded for scenarios that echo personal experiences while a brain region critical for AM retrieval will be transiently inhibited using TMS before task performance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Early online date29 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • electroencephalography
  • empathy
  • episodic memory
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

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