Social Modulation of Pain as Evidence for Empathy in Mice

  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},
  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… 

The interaction between pain and social behavior in humans and rodents.

increasing data supports the ability of social buffering, emotional contagion, vicarious learning, and social stress to modulate pain sensitivity and pain behavior in mice and rats.

Early weaning impairs a social contagion of pain-related stretching behavior in mice.

It is demonstrated that pairs of mice that were simultaneously administered with a noxious stimulus exhibited more pain-related behaviors than when one of the pair was treated with aNoxious stimulus, but differences disappeared when mice were separated from the dam 1 week earlier than the typical weaning age.

Social modulation of and by pain in humans and rodents.

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.

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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.

Affective empathy and prosocial behavior in rodents

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Results indicate that pain experienced by a familiar cagemate serves as an effective social cue for eliciting approach behavior in female mice, but does not affect male behavior, and elevated levels of oxytocin appear to attenuate female approach behavior.

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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.

Social approach to pain in laboratory mice

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.



Empathy for Pain Involves the Affective but not Sensory Components of Pain

Only that part of the pain network associated with its affective qualities, but not its sensory qualities, mediates empathy, suggesting that the neural substrate for empathic experience does not involve the entire "pain matrix".

Transcranial magnetic stimulation highlights the sensorimotor side of empathy for pain

This work used transcranial magnetic stimulation to record changes in corticospinal motor representations of hand muscles of individuals observing needles penetrating hands or feet of a human model or noncorporeal objects and found a reduction in amplitude of motor-evoked potentials that was specific to the muscle that subjects observed being pricked.

Emotional reactions of rats to the pain of others.

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  • Psychology, Biology
    Journal of comparative and physiological psychology
  • 1959
The present experiment is a test of the Conditioning theory hypothesis, using the depression in the rale of bar pressing for food reinforcement as the measure of degree of fear.

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The Perception-Action Model (PAM), together with an understanding of how representations change with experience, can explain the major empirical effects in the literature and can also predict a variety of empathy disorders.

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This work has identified single neurons in ACC that respond selectively to painful thermal and mechanical stimuli, supporting a role for the ACC in pain perception.

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The relation between empathy (defined as the ability to perceive accurately how another person is feeling) and physiology was studied in 31 Ss and accuracy of rating negative emotion was greatest when S and target evidenced high levels of physiological linkage across time.