The interactive effect of empathy and motor cortex stimulation on hand gesture comprehension

Karine Jospe, Agnes Flöel, Michal Lavidor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that the Action-Observation Network (AON) is involved in both emotional-embodiment (empathy) and action-embodiment mechanisms. In the current study, we hypothesized that interfering with the AON will impair action recognition and that this impairment will be modulated by empathy levels. Fifty-two participants conducted a semantic decision task of hand gesture recognition, while we interfered with the AON by applying active (n = 26) or sham (n = 26) transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to the hand area of the primary motor cortex. We found that interfering with the AON impaired the performance of participants with high empathy levels and enhanced the performance of participants with low empathy. This 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
Article number107412
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume141
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Embodiment
  • Empathy
  • Hand gestures
  • Motor stimulation
  • tDCS

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