Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Mirror neurons, the insula, and empathy

Marco Iacoboni a1 and Gian Luigi Lenzi a2
a1 UCLA Brain Mapping Center, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90095
a2 >Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche, Università “La Sapienza” di Roma, Rome 00185, Italy


Neurophysiological studies in monkeys and neuroimaging studies in humans support a model of empathy according to which there exists a shared code between perception and production of emotion. The neural circuitry critical to this mechanism is composed of frontal and parietal areas matching the observation and execution of action, and interacting heavily with the superior temporal cortex. Further, this cortical system is linked to the limbic system by means of an anterior sector of the human insular lobe.