Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Empathy: A unitary circuit or a set of dissociable neuro-cognitive systems?

James R. Blair a1 and Karina S. Perschardt a2
a1 Mood and Anxiety Program, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892
a2 Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, WC1H 3AR, England


We question whether empathy is mediated by a unitary circuit. We argue that recent neuroimaging data indicate dissociable neural responses for different facial expressions as well as for representing others' mental states (Theory of Mind, TOM). We also argue that the general empathy disorder considered characteristic of autism and psychopathy is not general but specific for each disorder.