Navigation Links
Children are naturally prone to be empathic and moral

Children between the ages of seven and 12 appear to be naturally inclined to feel empathy for others in pain, according to researchers at the University of Chicago, who used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scans to study responses in children.

The responses on the scans were similar to those found in studies of adults. Researchers found that children, like adults, show responses to pain in the same areas of their brains. The research also found additional aspects of the brain activated in children, when youngsters saw another person intentionally hurt by another individual.

"This study is the first to examine in young children both the neural response to pain in others and the impact of someone causing pain to someone else," said Jean Decety, Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago, who reported the findings in the article, "Who Caused the Pain? An fMRI Investigation of Empathy and Intentionality in Children," published in the currrent issue of Neuropsychologia. Joining him as co-authors were University students Kalina Michalska and Yuko Aktsuki.

The programming for empathy is something that is "hard-wired" into the brains of normal children, and not entirely the product of parental guidance or other nurturing, said Decety. Understanding the brain's role in responding to pain can help researchers understand how brain impairments influence anti-social behavior, such as bullying, he explained.

For their research, the team showed 17 typically developed children, ages seven to 12, animated photos of people experiencing pain, either received accidentally or inflicted intentionally. The group included nine girls and eight boys.

While undergoing fMRI scans, children where shown animations using three photographs of two people whose right hands or right feet only were visible.

The photographs showed people in pain accidently caused, such as when a heavy bowl was dropped on their hands, and situations in which the people were hurt, such as when a person stepped intentionally on someone's foot. They were also shown pictures without pain and animations in which people helped someone alleviate pain.

The scans showed that the parts of the brain activated when adults see pain were also triggered in children.

"Consistent with previous functional MRI studies of pain empathy with adults, the perception of other people in pain in children was associated with increased hemodymamic activity in the neural circuits involved in the processing of first-hand experience of pain, including the insula, somatosensory cortex, anterior midcigulate cortex, periaqueductal gray and supplementary motor area," Decety wrote.

However, when the children saw animations of someone intentionally hurt, the regions of the brain engaged in social interaction and moral reasoning (the temporo-parietal junction, the paracigulate, orital medial frontal cortices and amygdala) also were activated.

The study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, provides new insights for children between childrens' perceptions of right and wrong and how their brains process information, Decety said. "Although our study did not tap into explicit moral judgment, perceiving an individual intentionally harming another person is likely to elicit the awareness of moral wrongdoing in the observer," he wrote.

Subsequent interviews with the children showed they were aware of wrong-doing in the animations in which someone was hurt. "Thirteen of the children thought that the situations were unfair, and they asked about the reason that could explain this behavior," Decety said.


Contact: William Harms
University of Chicago

Related medicine news :

1. Malaria prevention reduces anemia and improves educational potential in Kenyan schoolchildren
2. Lipid Association Responds to New Cholesterol Guidelines for Children
3. Toys"R"Us, Inc. Announces Partnership With Safe Kids Worldwide to Help Keep Children Safe
4. Childrens Hospital Oakland receive NIH grants
5. Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Signs Bill Ensuring Continuity of Care for Children, Young Adults with Autism
6. New Faces on Facebook(R): ADHD Moms Online Community Offers Tools for Moms of Children with ADHD
7. Families with children without a genetic or gestational link to their parents are functioning well
8. Nestle Juicy Juice Kicks Off Summer Promoting Nutritious, Active Lifestyle Choices Among Latino Children, Families
9. The Childrens Center Announces Addition of Five New Board Members
10. Dietary adherence associated with better glucose control in children with type 1 diabetes
11. Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta to Open Marcus Autism Center
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Children are naturally prone to be empathic and moral
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Medical Solutions, one ... for its stellar workplace culture with the company’s Cincinnati office being named a ... Cincinnati office was named a finalist in Cincinnati Business Courier’s 13th annual Greater ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... ... For the first time, Vitalalert is donating half of its earnings to ... between the two groups began in 2014 with Vitalalert pledging a portion of every ... founded in 1954 and is an international Christian-based health organization whose mission is to ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... and athletic programs, launches new Wimbledon Athletics Facebook page to educate ... athletes for unsuspected cardiac abnormalities. About 2,000 people under the age of 25 ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... , ... Beddit® has launched a new Android app for use ... a more intuitive SleepScore™ that rates sleep quality on a 100-point scale and makes ... by a proprietary algorithm. Beddit analyzes the data to provide an easy to understand ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... for people struggling with eating disorders as a result of the $20,000 raised ... event, held at Fox Run Golf Club in Eureka, will help individuals who ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 ... ser potential att använda SyMRI för att ... för patienter med multipel skleros (MS) eller ... SyntheticMR AB för att kunna använda SyMRI ... Med SyMRI kan man generera flera konstrastbilder ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... India , November 26, 2015 ... --> adds ... Report" and "Investigation Report on China ... and 2021 forecasts data and information ... . ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ) has ... Market by Type (Reagents & Kits, Analyzers), ... Diagnostic Labs), Application (Research, Clinical Diagnostics), and ... report to their offering. --> ... the "Radioimmunoassay Market by Type (Reagents ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: