Brain Science Advances


empathy, empathy for pain, face, cognitive and neural mechanisms


Empathy for pain is a hotspot in the field of empathy research because of its specific cognitive and neural mechanism. Currently, studies of empathy for pain can be classified into two categories based on the body regions receiving the painful stimulus, i.e., empathy for face pain and empathy for body pain, which conveys painful information based on individuals’ faces or body parts, respectively. Although the existing evidence revealed differences between these two kinds of pain empathy regarding the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms, the current studies tend to confuse these findings. Therefore, we summarized the differences between empathy for face and body pain, mainly regarding the behavioral reactivity tendency, brain activations, and electrophysiological (EEG) signals. These differences probably stem from the fact that the human face contains more emotional information, while other body parts contain more perceptual information. Thus, future studies should identify the distinctions between empathy for face and body pain, to explore further how empathy for face pain is affected by the facial information of others and focus on empathy for face pain in individuals with psychopathological disorders. Furthermore, the specific reasons for these distinctions and their underlying neuromechanisms deserve to be further reviewed.


Tsinghua University Press