Differential pattern of functional brain plasticity after compassion and empathy training.

  title={Differential pattern of functional brain plasticity after compassion and empathy training.},
  author={Olga M. Klimecki and Susanne Leiberg and Matthieu Ricard and Tania Singer},
  journal={Social cognitive and affective neuroscience},
  volume={9 6},
Although empathy is crucial for successful social interactions, excessive sharing of others' negative emotions may be maladaptive and constitute a source of burnout. To investigate functional neural plasticity underlying the augmentation of empathy and to test the counteracting potential of compassion, one group of participants was first trained in empathic resonance and subsequently in compassion. In response to videos depicting human suffering, empathy training, but not memory training… 

Figures from this paper

Empathy and Compassion as Functional Neuroimaging in

The findings suggest that the cultivation of compassion can be design as a program to maintain empathy and increase resilience and coping strategies in health care, educational setting, and high.


An evolutionary understanding of compassion and compassion training is provided by examining the psychological, neural and behavioral effects of loving-kindness meditation and compassion meditation and suggests that CT is beneficial to individuals as well as inter-group relationships.

Mindfulness meditation regulates anterior insula activity during empathy for social pain

The findings suggest that current mindfulness meditation could provide an adaptive mechanism in coping with distress due to the empathic sharing of others' suffering, thereby possibly enabling compassionate behavior.

Visual Attention to Suffering After Compassion Training Is Associated With Decreased Amygdala Responses

Findings suggest that compassion meditation may cultivate visual preference for suffering while attenuating neural responses in regions typically associated with aversive processing of negative stimuli, which may cultivate a more equanimous and nonreactive form of attention to stimuli of suffering.

Exploiting the plasticity of compassion to improve psychotherapy

Effects of compassion training on brain responses to suffering others

CM increased brain responses to suffering others in the medial orbitofrontal cortex relative to both the placebo and familiarity control conditions, and in the nucleus accumbens relative to the familiarity control condition.

The expression of compassion in social work practice

ABSTRACT Compassion is a core value in social work. As an emerging topic in research, we are learning how to distinguish this higher-level mental faculty from empathy and seeing important

Synchrony with distress in affective empathy and compassion.

The results point to the key role of subjective and physiological synchrony with the target's distress in empathic sharing of negative experiences, and highlight the attenuation of embodied resonance with distress in compassionate experiences.



Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training.

It is observed that, compared with a memory control group, compassion training elicited activity in a neural network including the medial orbitofrontal cortex, putamen, pallidum, and ventral tegmental area--brain regions previously associated with positive affect and affiliation.

Neural correlates of admiration and compassion

The study revealed a previously undescribed pattern within the posteromedial cortices (the ensemble of precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, and retrosplenial region), an intriguing territory currently known for its involvement in the default mode of brain operation and in self-related/consciousness processes.

Compassionate attitude towards others’ suffering activates the mesolimbic neural system

Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise

Data indicate that the mental expertise to cultivate positive emotion alters the activation of circuitries previously linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.

Empathic neural responses are modulated by the perceived fairness of others

It is shown that in men (at least) empathic responses are shaped by valuation of other people's social behaviour, such that they empathize with fair opponents while favouring the physical punishment of unfair opponents, a finding that echoes recent evidence for altruistic punishment.

Empathic brain responses in insula are modulated by levels of alexithymia but not autism

The findings suggest that empathy deficits observed in autism may be due to the large comorbidity between alexithymic traits and autism, rather than representing a necessary feature of the social impairments in autism.

Effects of Oxytocin and Prosocial Behavior on Brain Responses to Direct and Vicariously Experienced Pain

The results suggest that selfish individuals may not be as rational and unemotional as usually suggested, their actions being determined by their feeling anxious rather than by reason.

Meta-analytic evidence for common and distinct neural networks associated with directly experienced pain and empathy for pain