The interaction between embodiment and empathy in facial expression recognition

Karine Jospe, Agnes Flöe, Michal Lavidor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that the Action-Observation Network (AON) is involved in both emotionalembodiment (empathy) and action-embodiment mechanisms. In this study, we hypothesized that interfering with the AON will impair action recognition and that this impairment will be modulated by empathy levels. In Experiment 1 (n=90), participants were asked to recognize facial expressions while their facial motion was restricted. In Experiment 2 (n=50), we interfered with the AON by applying transcranial Direct Current Stimulation to the motor cortex. In both experiments, we found that interfering with the AON impaired the performance of participants with high empathy levels; however, for the first time, we demonstrated that the interference enhanced the performance of participants with low empathy. This novel finding suggests that the embodiment module may be flexible, and that it can be enhanced in individuals with low empathy by simple manipulation of motor activation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-215
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press.

Keywords

  • Embodiment
  • Empathy
  • Facial expression
  • TDCS

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