Emotion self-regulation and empathy depend upon longer stimulus exposure.
ABSTRACT: Observation of others in pain induces positive elevation (pain effect) in late event-related potentials (ERP). This effect is associated with top-down attention regulating processes. It has previously been shown that stimulus exposure duration can affect top-down attentional modulation of response to threat-related stimuli. We investigated the effect of exposure duration on ERP response to others in pain. Two late ERP components, P3 and late positive potentials (LPP), from 18 healthy people were measured while they viewed pictures of hands in painful or neutral situations for either 200 or 500 ms, during two task conditions (pain judgment and counting hands). P3 and LPP pain effects during the pain judgment condition were significantly greater with 500 ms than 200 ms stimulus presentation. Ours is the first study to suggest that engagement of empathy-related self-regulatory processes reflected in late potentials requires longer exposure to the pain-related stimulus. Although this is important information about the relationship between early sensory and subsequent brain processing, and about engagement of self-regulatory processes, the neural basis of this time-dependence remains unclear. It might be important to investigate the relationship between stimulus duration and empathic response in clinical populations where issues of self-regulation, empathic response and speed of information processing exist.
Project description:Facial expressions are deeply tied to empathy, which plays an important role during social communication. The eye region is effective at conveying facial expressions, especially fear and sadness emotions. Further, it was proved that subliminal stimuli could impact human behavior. This research aimed to explore the effect of subliminal sad, fearful and neutral emotions conveyed by the eye region on a viewer's empathy for pain using event-related potentials (ERP). The experiment used an emotional priming paradigm of 3 (prime: subliminal neutral, sad, fear eye region information) × 2 (target: painful, nonpainful pictures) within-subject design. Participants were told to judge whether the targets were in pain or not. Results showed that the subliminal sad eye stimulus elicited a larger P2 amplitude than the subliminal fearful eye stimulus when assessing pain. For P3 and late positive component (LPC), the amplitude elicited by the painful pictures was larger than the amplitude elicited by the nonpainful pictures. The behavioral results demonstrated that people reacted to targets depicting pain more slowly after the sad emotion priming. Moreover, the subjective ratings of Personal Distress (PD) (one of the dimensions in Chinese version of Interpersonal Reactivity Index scale) predicted the pain effect in empathic neural responses in the N1 and N2 time window. The current study showed that subliminal eye emotion affected the viewer's empathy for pain. Compared with the subliminal fearful eye stimulus, the subliminal sad eye stimulus had a greater impact on empathy for pain. The perceptual level of pain was deeper in the late controlled processing stage.
Project description:Reward-processing involves two temporal stages characterized by two distinct neural processes: reward-anticipation and reward-outcome. Intriguingly, very little research has examined the relationship between neural processes involved in reward-anticipation and reward-outcome. To investigate this, one needs to consider the heterogeneity of reward-processing within each stage. To identify different stages of reward processing, we adapted a reward time-estimation task. While EEG data were recorded, participants were instructed to button-press 3.5s after the onset of an Anticipation-Cue and received monetary reward for good time-estimation on the Reward trials, but not on No-Reward trials. We first separated reward-anticipation into event related potentials (ERPs) occurring at three sub-stages: reward/no-reward cue-evaluation, motor-preparation and feedback-anticipation. During reward/no-reward cue-evaluation, the Reward-Anticipation Cue led to a smaller N2 and larger P3. During motor-preparation, we report, for the first time, that the Reward-Anticipation Cue enhanced the Readiness Potential (RP), starting approximately 1s before movement. At the subsequent feedback-anticipation stage, the Reward-Anticipation Cue elevated the Stimulus-Preceding Negativity (SPN). We also separated reward-outcome ERPs into different components occurring at different time-windows: the Feedback-Related Negativity (FRN), Feedback-P3 (FB-P3) and Late-Positive Potentials (LPP). Lastly, we examined the relationship between reward-anticipation and reward-outcome ERPs. We report that individual-differences in specific reward-anticipation ERPs uniquely predicted specific reward-outcome ERPs. In particular, the reward-anticipation Early-RP (1-.8s before movement) predicted early reward-outcome ERPs (FRN and FB-P3), whereas, the reward-anticipation SPN most strongly predicted a later reward-outcome ERP (LPP). Results have important implications for understanding the nature of the relationship between reward-anticipation and reward-outcome neural-processes.
Project description:Lack of empathy is a hallmark of social impairments in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, the concept empathy encompasses several socio-emotional and behavioral components underpinned by interacting brain circuits. This study examined empathic arousal and social understanding in individuals with ASD and matched controls by combining pressure pain thresholds (PPT) with functional magnetic resonance imaging (study 1) and electroencephalography/event-related potentials and eye-tracking responses (study 2) to empathy-eliciting stimuli depicting physical bodily injuries. Results indicate that participants with ASD had lower PPT than controls. When viewing body parts being accidentally injured, increased hemodynamic responses in the somatosensory cortex (SI/SII) but decreased responses in the anterior mid-cingulate and anterior insula as well as heightened N2 but preserved late-positive potentials (LPP) were detected in ASD participants. When viewing a person intentionally hurting another, decreased hemodynamic responses in the medial prefrontal cortex and reduced LPP were observed in the ASD group. PPT was a mediator for the SI/SII response in predicting subjective unpleasantness ratings to others' pain. Both ASD and control groups had comparable mu suppression, indicative of typical sensorimotor resonance. The findings demonstrate that, in addition to reduced pain thresholds, individuals with ASD exhibit heightened empathic arousal but impaired social understanding when perceiving others' distress.
Project description:Giving and receiving pain are common in the practice of BDSM (bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, and sadism-masochism). Playing a submissive role during BDSM practice weakens both the behavioral and neural empathic responses of female individuals to others' suffering, suggesting that long-term BDSM experience affects BDSM practitioners' empathic ability. This study further investigates whether physical restriction during BDSM practice also modulates individuals' neural responses to others' suffering. We measured neural responses to others' suffering by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) in female submissives while they viewed painful and neutral expressions in sexual sadistic/general social contexts under ball gag Blocking and Relaxed conditions. The neural responses recorded during 92-112 ms (N1), 132-172 ms (P2), 200-340 ms (N2), early late positive potential (LPP, 400-600 ms), and late LPP (700-1,000 ms) were included in the analyses. Compared to the relaxed condition, when a ball gag was used to prevent facial muscle movement and facial mimicry, the N1, early LPP, and late LPP responses neural responses to others' suffering were inhibited. The moderation effect of ball gag blocking on the N1 and early LPP amplitudes was positively correlated with the subjective feelings of facial muscle stillness, and the blocking moderation effect on the late LPP amplitudes was positively correlated with subjective feelings of humiliation. This study is the first neuropsychological investigation of the transient BDSM-related physical restriction effects on BDSM practitioners. These findings suggest that physical restriction (via a ball gag) during BDSM practices increases the wearer's facial muscle stillness and sense of humiliation. This physical restriction inhibits both early automatic responses and late controlled processes in response to the suffering of others.
Project description:When considering the "beauty-is-good" stereotype, facial attractiveness should facilitate empathy for pain. On the other hand, having in mind the "threat value of pain" hypothesis, pain cues would be more salient, and thus, its processing would not suffer influence by facial attractiveness. The event-related potential (ERP) allows investigating if one of these theories could predict individuals' responses regarding the perception of pain or attractiveness in others' faces. We tracked 35 participants' reactions to pictures depicting more and less attractive faces displayed in a painful and non-painful condition. Each participant completed the following two tasks when presented the images of faces: (1) the Pain Judgment Task, in which participants should rate the pain levels, and (2) the Attractiveness Judgment Task, in which participants should rate the attractiveness. Results showed that participants exhibited differences rating more and less attractive faces in the non-painful pictures, but not in the painful pictures. These results were observed in P3 and LPC amplitudes in the Pain Judgment Task, as well as in N170 and P2 amplitudes in the Attractive Judgment Task. Our results suggested that both explicit and implicit empathic pain processing inhibited the processing of attractiveness perception. These findings supported the "threat value of pain" hypothesis. Besides, in the Attractive Judgment Task, the N170 and P2 amplitudes for more attractive painful pictures were larger than those for more attractive non-painful pictures. In contrast, no significant difference was found between the amplitudes for painful and non-painful, less attractive pictures. Our findings suggest that explicit facial attractiveness processing for more attractive face images potentiates the implicit empathy for pain processing, therefore partly supporting the "beautiful-is-good" stereotype.
Project description:Earlier studies have revealed cross-modal visuo-tactile interactions in endogenous spatial attention. The current research used event-related potentials (ERPs) and virtual reality (VR) to identify how the visual cues of the perceiver's body affect visuo-tactile interaction in endogenous spatial attention and at what point in time the effect takes place. A bimodal oddball task with lateralized tactile and visual stimuli was presented in two VR conditions, one with and one without visible hands, and one VR-free control with hands in view. Participants were required to silently count one type of stimulus and ignore all other stimuli presented in irrelevant modality or location. The presence of hands was found to modulate early and late components of somatosensory and visual evoked potentials. For sensory-perceptual stages, the presence of virtual or real hands was found to amplify attention-related negativity on the somatosensory N140 and cross-modal interaction in somatosensory and visual P200. For postperceptual stages, an amplified N200 component was obtained in somatosensory and visual evoked potentials, indicating increased response inhibition in response to non-target stimuli. The effect of somatosensory, but not visual, N200 enhanced when the virtual hands were present. The findings suggest that bodily presence affects sustained cross-modal spatial attention between vision and touch and that this effect is specifically present in ERPs related to early- and late-sensory processing, as well as response inhibition, but do not affect later attention and memory-related P3 activity. Finally, the experiments provide commeasurable scenarios for the estimation of the signal and noise ratio to quantify effects related to the use of a head mounted display (HMD). However, despite valid a-priori reasons for fearing signal interference due to a HMD, we observed no significant drop in the robustness of our ERP measurements.
Project description:Disgust, an emotion motivating withdrawal from offensive stimuli, protects us from the risk of biological pathogens and sociomoral violations. Homogeneity of its two types, namely, core and moral disgust has been under intensive debate. To examine the dynamic relationship between them, we recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) for core disgust, moral disgust and neutral pictures while participants performed a modified oddball task. ERP analysis revealed that N1 and P2 amplitudes were largest for the core disgust pictures, indicating automatic processing of the core disgust-evoking pictures. N2 amplitudes were higher for pictures evoking moral disgust relative to core disgust and neutral pictures, reflecting a violation of social norms. The core disgust pictures elicited larger P3 and late positive potential (LPP) amplitudes in comparison with the moral disgust pictures which, in turn, elicited larger P3 and LPP amplitudes when compared to the neutral pictures. Taken together, these findings indicated that core and moral disgust pictures elicited different neural activities at various stages of information processing, which provided supporting evidence for the heterogeneity of disgust.
Project description:Empathizing with another's suffering is important in social interactions. Empathic behavior is selectively elicited from genuine, meaningful pain but not from fake, meaningless scenarios. However, the brain's screening mechanism of false information from meaningful events and the time course for the screening process remains unclear. Using EEG combined with principle components analysis (PCA) techniques, here we compared temporal neurodynamics between the observation of pain and no-pain pictures as well as between true (painful expressions and needle-penetrated arms) and false (needle-penetrated faces with neutral expressions) pain pictures. The results revealed that pain vs. no-pain information is differentiated in the very early ERP components, i.e., the N1/P1 for the face and arm pictures categories and the VPP/N170 for the facial expression category while the mid-latency ERP components, N2 and P3, played key roles in differentiating true from false situations. The complex of N2 and P3 components may serve as a screening mechanism through which observers allocate their attentions to more important or relevant events and screen out false environmental information. This is the first study to describe and provide a time course of the screening process during pain empathy. These findings shed new light on the understanding of empathic processing.
Project description:Previous studies have found that individuals exhibit empathic responses when others are treated unfairly. However, there remains a lack of clarity over the extent to which self-interest regulates these empathic responses, and in identifying which component of empathy is more likely to be affected. To investigate these issues, an experiment was designed based on a money distribution task with two conditions [observation condition (OC) vs. participation condition (PC)], and carried out using scalp-recorded event-related potentials (ERPs). Behavioral data showed that the participants' empathic responses were consistent with their coplayers' emotional expressions in the OC, whereas they were inconsistent with the coplayers' expressions in the PC. The electrophysiological data showed that the neural encoding of facial expressions (reflected in the N170) was not affected by self-interest. However, the late stage of empathic responses (LPP) showed a decline when participants' self-interest was involved. Disadvantageous inequality and relatively fair distribution to others elicited a more pronounced feedback-related negativity (FRN) than advantageous inequality distribution in both the OC and PC. As the late stage of empathic responses is also indexed by the LPP amplitude, these results indicate that the participants were more concerned for their own outcomes than for others' benefits when self-interest was involved, which reduced their empathy toward their coplayers at the late stage of empathic responses.
Project description:Recent reports show that focusing attention on the location where pain is expected can enhance its perception. Moreover, crossing the hands over the body's midline is known to impair the ability to localise stimuli and decrease tactile and pain sensations in healthy participants. The present study investigated the role of transient spatial attention on the perception of painful and non-painful electrical stimuli in conditions in which a match or a mismatch was induced between skin-based and external frames of reference (uncrossed and crossed hands positions, respectively). We measured the subjective experience (Numerical Rating Scale scores) and the electrophysiological response elicited by brief electric stimuli by analysing the P3 component of Event-Related Potentials (ERPs). Twenty-two participants underwent eight painful and eight non-painful stimulus blocks. The electrical stimuli were applied to either the left or the right hand, held in either a crossed or uncrossed position. Each stimulus was preceded by a direction cue (leftward or rightward arrow). In 80% of the trials, the arrow correctly pointed to the spatial regions where the stimulus would appear (congruent cueing). Our results indicated that congruent cues resulted in increased pain NRS scores compared to incongruent ones. For non-painful stimuli such an effect was observed only in the uncrossed hands position. For both non-painful and painful stimuli the P3 peak amplitudes were higher and occurred later for incongruently cued stimuli compared to congruent ones. However, we found that crossing the hands substantially reduced the cueing effect of the P3 peak amplitudes elicited by painful stimuli. Taken together, our results showed a strong influence of transient attention manipulations on the NRS ratings and on the brain activity. Our results also suggest that hand position may modulate the strength of the cueing effect, although differences between painful and non-painful stimuli exist.