Event Title

Effects of Empathy on Emotional Processing and Brain Lateralization

Location

Lobby in front of Auditorium

Start Date

19-4-2019 11:00 AM

Department

Psychology

Description

Empathy, the capacity to understand and respond to the emotional states of others, involves the activation of different regions of the brain, such as orbitofrontal gyrus activation while making empathetic judgements and temporal cortex activation while making inferences of another’s emotional state. This specialized activation may also differ between the two cerebral hemispheres and is known as lateralization. Brain lateralization can be seen in the contralateral control each cerebral hemisphere has over the human body, as well as in the way the left hemisphere is specialized for the processing of language and speech and how the right hemisphere has responsibility for visual-spatial relations, facial recognition, and emotion. Chimeras, pictures of vertically split faces, are often used in studying the emotional processing aspect of lateralization. This process involves participants being presented with facial images made up of one half that emotes a neutral expression and another half that expresses a certain emotion. Past studies often show a leftward bias, in which participants believe chimeras displaying the emotion to the viewer’s left are more emotive, confirming right hemispheric specialization. The present study will attempt to replicate these findings while also introducing an empathy condition to the chimeric faces task. Images from the Warsaw Set of Emotional Facial Expression Pictures database of two women will be used in order to create sets of happy/neutral and sad/neutral chimeras. One unaltered image of one of the women will be presented to participants along with an empathy inducing story to create the empathy condition. Half of participants will be shown an image of the first woman along with the empathetic story while the other half of participants will be shown a picture of the second woman along with the empathic story. Chimeras of both women will then be presented to participants who will be instructed to select the chimeras they feel shows the greater amount of emotion. We expect a leftward bias in which participants favor emotions being displayed to the viewer’s left for all of the faces, with a larger leftward bias for faces participants feel more empathy toward (ie the one they heard about in the story).

Comments

Linda Rueckert is the faculty sponsor of this poster.

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Apr 19th, 11:00 AM

Effects of Empathy on Emotional Processing and Brain Lateralization

Lobby in front of Auditorium

Empathy, the capacity to understand and respond to the emotional states of others, involves the activation of different regions of the brain, such as orbitofrontal gyrus activation while making empathetic judgements and temporal cortex activation while making inferences of another’s emotional state. This specialized activation may also differ between the two cerebral hemispheres and is known as lateralization. Brain lateralization can be seen in the contralateral control each cerebral hemisphere has over the human body, as well as in the way the left hemisphere is specialized for the processing of language and speech and how the right hemisphere has responsibility for visual-spatial relations, facial recognition, and emotion. Chimeras, pictures of vertically split faces, are often used in studying the emotional processing aspect of lateralization. This process involves participants being presented with facial images made up of one half that emotes a neutral expression and another half that expresses a certain emotion. Past studies often show a leftward bias, in which participants believe chimeras displaying the emotion to the viewer’s left are more emotive, confirming right hemispheric specialization. The present study will attempt to replicate these findings while also introducing an empathy condition to the chimeric faces task. Images from the Warsaw Set of Emotional Facial Expression Pictures database of two women will be used in order to create sets of happy/neutral and sad/neutral chimeras. One unaltered image of one of the women will be presented to participants along with an empathy inducing story to create the empathy condition. Half of participants will be shown an image of the first woman along with the empathetic story while the other half of participants will be shown a picture of the second woman along with the empathic story. Chimeras of both women will then be presented to participants who will be instructed to select the chimeras they feel shows the greater amount of emotion. We expect a leftward bias in which participants favor emotions being displayed to the viewer’s left for all of the faces, with a larger leftward bias for faces participants feel more empathy toward (ie the one they heard about in the story).