Social Modulation of Pain as Evidence for Empathy in Mice

@article{Langford2006SocialMO,
  title={Social Modulation of Pain as Evidence for Empathy in Mice},
  author={Dale J. Langford and Sara Eve Crager and Zarrar Shehzad and Shad B. Smith and Susana G. Sotocinal and Jeremy S Levenstadt and Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin and Jeffrey S. Mogil},
  journal={Science},
  year={2006},
  volume={312},
  pages={1967 - 1970}
}
Empathy is thought to be unique to higher primates, possibly to humans alone. We report the modulation of pain sensitivity in mice produced solely by exposure to their cagemates, but not to strangers, in pain. Mice tested in dyads and given an identical noxious stimulus displayed increased pain behaviors with statistically greater co-occurrence, effects dependent on visual observation. When familiar mice were given noxious stimuli of different intensities, their pain behavior was influenced by… 

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These experiments suggest that rodents are capable of producing simplified versions of any number of social phenomena involving empathy, previously thought to be the sole province of human beings.

Rat Model of Empathy for Pain.

The rodent model of empathy for pain is state-of-the-art and has more advantages than the existing ones used for social neuroscience since it can reflect sensory, emotional and cognitive processes of the brain in running the prosocial and altruistic behaviors in animals who could not report verbally.

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[Empathy for pain: A novel bio-psychosocial-behavioral laboratory animal model].

A novel bio-psychosocial-behavioral model for study of pain and its emotional comorbidity using laboratory animals is provided and it is mapped out that the medial prefrontal cortex, including the anterior cingulate cortex, prelimbic cortex and infralimbic cortex is involved in empathy for pain in rats, suggesting that a neural network may be associated with development of pain empathy in the CNS.

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It was found that the frequency of contact by the test mouse was negatively correlated with the pain behavior of the jailed mouse, suggesting that proximity of a familiar unaffected conspecific may have analgesic properties.

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The current study evaluated social approach towards pups in pain in adult female mice with varying degrees of familiarity and relatedness to the pups to understand how degrees of maternal relatedness affect social approach behavior in mice.
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