Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Elucidation of the brain correlates of cognitive empathy and self-awareness

Julian Paul Keenan a1 and Mark A. Wheeler a2
a1 Department of Psychology, Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ 07304
a2 Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122


Self-awareness is thought to be tied to processes of higher-order perspective taking including empathy. These abilities appear to be reserved for humans, great apes, and possibly, dolphins. Recent examinations reveal that both self-awareness and empathy may have origins in the right hemisphere. It is possible that, as in language, lateralization plays a key role in the development of higher-order perspective taking and self-awareness.