Tracking emotions in the brain - Revisiting the Empathic Accuracy Task

Nuria Mackes, Dennis Golm, Owen O'Daly, Sagari Sarkar, Edmund Sonuga-Barke, Graeme Fairchild, Mitul Mehta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Many empathy tasks lack ecological validity due to their use of simplistic stimuli and static analytical approaches. Empathic accuracy tasks overcome these limitations by using autobiographical emotional video clips. Usually, a single measure of empathic accuracy is computed by correlating the participants' continuous ratings of the narrator's emotional state with the narrator's own ratings. In this study, we validated a modified empathic accuracy task. A valence-independent rating of the narrator's emotional intensity was added to provide comparability between videos portraying different primary emotions and to explore changes in neural activity related to variations in emotional intensity over time. We also added a new neutral control condition to investigate general emotional processing. In the scanner, 34 healthy participants watched 6 video clips of people talking about an autobiographical event (2 sad, 2 happy and 2 neutral clips) while continuously rating the narrator's emotional intensity. Fluctuation in perceived emotional intensity correlated with activity in brain regions previously implicated in cognitive empathy (bilateral superior temporal sulcus, temporoparietal junction, and temporal pole) and affective empathy (right anterior insula and inferior frontal gyrus). When emotional video clips were compared to neutral video clips, we observed higher activity in similar brain regions. Empathic accuracy, on the other hand, was only positively related to activation in regions that have been implicated in cognitive empathy. Our modified empathic accuracy task provides a new method for studying the underlying components and dynamic processes involved in empathy. While the task elicited both cognitive and affective empathy, successful tracking of others' emotions relied predominantly on the cognitive components of empathy. The fMRI data analysis techniques developed here may prove valuable in characterising the neural basis of empathic difficulties observed across a range of psychiatric conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-686
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroImage
Volume178
Early online date8 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Fingerprint

Emotions
Surgical Instruments
Brain
Temporal Lobe
Prefrontal Cortex
Psychiatry
Healthy Volunteers
Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Cite this

Mackes, N., Golm, D., O'Daly, O., Sarkar, S., Sonuga-Barke, E., Fairchild, G., & Mehta, M. (2018). Tracking emotions in the brain - Revisiting the Empathic Accuracy Task. NeuroImage, 178, 677-686. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.080

Tracking emotions in the brain - Revisiting the Empathic Accuracy Task. / Mackes, Nuria; Golm, Dennis; O'Daly, Owen; Sarkar, Sagari; Sonuga-Barke, Edmund ; Fairchild, Graeme; Mehta, Mitul.

In: NeuroImage, Vol. 178, 01.09.2018, p. 677-686.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mackes, N, Golm, D, O'Daly, O, Sarkar, S, Sonuga-Barke, E, Fairchild, G & Mehta, M 2018, 'Tracking emotions in the brain - Revisiting the Empathic Accuracy Task', NeuroImage, vol. 178, pp. 677-686. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.080
Mackes, Nuria ; Golm, Dennis ; O'Daly, Owen ; Sarkar, Sagari ; Sonuga-Barke, Edmund ; Fairchild, Graeme ; Mehta, Mitul. / Tracking emotions in the brain - Revisiting the Empathic Accuracy Task. In: NeuroImage. 2018 ; Vol. 178. pp. 677-686.
@article{3b800c2ca90640b58f020ebf9a24aa26,
title = "Tracking emotions in the brain - Revisiting the Empathic Accuracy Task",
abstract = "Many empathy tasks lack ecological validity due to their use of simplistic stimuli and static analytical approaches. Empathic accuracy tasks overcome these limitations by using autobiographical emotional video clips. Usually, a single measure of empathic accuracy is computed by correlating the participants' continuous ratings of the narrator's emotional state with the narrator's own ratings. In this study, we validated a modified empathic accuracy task. A valence-independent rating of the narrator's emotional intensity was added to provide comparability between videos portraying different primary emotions and to explore changes in neural activity related to variations in emotional intensity over time. We also added a new neutral control condition to investigate general emotional processing. In the scanner, 34 healthy participants watched 6 video clips of people talking about an autobiographical event (2 sad, 2 happy and 2 neutral clips) while continuously rating the narrator's emotional intensity. Fluctuation in perceived emotional intensity correlated with activity in brain regions previously implicated in cognitive empathy (bilateral superior temporal sulcus, temporoparietal junction, and temporal pole) and affective empathy (right anterior insula and inferior frontal gyrus). When emotional video clips were compared to neutral video clips, we observed higher activity in similar brain regions. Empathic accuracy, on the other hand, was only positively related to activation in regions that have been implicated in cognitive empathy. Our modified empathic accuracy task provides a new method for studying the underlying components and dynamic processes involved in empathy. While the task elicited both cognitive and affective empathy, successful tracking of others' emotions relied predominantly on the cognitive components of empathy. The fMRI data analysis techniques developed here may prove valuable in characterising the neural basis of empathic difficulties observed across a range of psychiatric conditions.",
author = "Nuria Mackes and Dennis Golm and Owen O'Daly and Sagari Sarkar and Edmund Sonuga-Barke and Graeme Fairchild and Mitul Mehta",
note = "Copyright {\circledC} 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.",
year = "2018",
month = "9",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.080",
language = "English",
volume = "178",
pages = "677--686",
journal = "NeuroImage",
issn = "1053-8119",
publisher = "Elsevier Academic Press Inc",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Tracking emotions in the brain - Revisiting the Empathic Accuracy Task

AU - Mackes, Nuria

AU - Golm, Dennis

AU - O'Daly, Owen

AU - Sarkar, Sagari

AU - Sonuga-Barke, Edmund

AU - Fairchild, Graeme

AU - Mehta, Mitul

N1 - Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PY - 2018/9/1

Y1 - 2018/9/1

N2 - Many empathy tasks lack ecological validity due to their use of simplistic stimuli and static analytical approaches. Empathic accuracy tasks overcome these limitations by using autobiographical emotional video clips. Usually, a single measure of empathic accuracy is computed by correlating the participants' continuous ratings of the narrator's emotional state with the narrator's own ratings. In this study, we validated a modified empathic accuracy task. A valence-independent rating of the narrator's emotional intensity was added to provide comparability between videos portraying different primary emotions and to explore changes in neural activity related to variations in emotional intensity over time. We also added a new neutral control condition to investigate general emotional processing. In the scanner, 34 healthy participants watched 6 video clips of people talking about an autobiographical event (2 sad, 2 happy and 2 neutral clips) while continuously rating the narrator's emotional intensity. Fluctuation in perceived emotional intensity correlated with activity in brain regions previously implicated in cognitive empathy (bilateral superior temporal sulcus, temporoparietal junction, and temporal pole) and affective empathy (right anterior insula and inferior frontal gyrus). When emotional video clips were compared to neutral video clips, we observed higher activity in similar brain regions. Empathic accuracy, on the other hand, was only positively related to activation in regions that have been implicated in cognitive empathy. Our modified empathic accuracy task provides a new method for studying the underlying components and dynamic processes involved in empathy. While the task elicited both cognitive and affective empathy, successful tracking of others' emotions relied predominantly on the cognitive components of empathy. The fMRI data analysis techniques developed here may prove valuable in characterising the neural basis of empathic difficulties observed across a range of psychiatric conditions.

AB - Many empathy tasks lack ecological validity due to their use of simplistic stimuli and static analytical approaches. Empathic accuracy tasks overcome these limitations by using autobiographical emotional video clips. Usually, a single measure of empathic accuracy is computed by correlating the participants' continuous ratings of the narrator's emotional state with the narrator's own ratings. In this study, we validated a modified empathic accuracy task. A valence-independent rating of the narrator's emotional intensity was added to provide comparability between videos portraying different primary emotions and to explore changes in neural activity related to variations in emotional intensity over time. We also added a new neutral control condition to investigate general emotional processing. In the scanner, 34 healthy participants watched 6 video clips of people talking about an autobiographical event (2 sad, 2 happy and 2 neutral clips) while continuously rating the narrator's emotional intensity. Fluctuation in perceived emotional intensity correlated with activity in brain regions previously implicated in cognitive empathy (bilateral superior temporal sulcus, temporoparietal junction, and temporal pole) and affective empathy (right anterior insula and inferior frontal gyrus). When emotional video clips were compared to neutral video clips, we observed higher activity in similar brain regions. Empathic accuracy, on the other hand, was only positively related to activation in regions that have been implicated in cognitive empathy. Our modified empathic accuracy task provides a new method for studying the underlying components and dynamic processes involved in empathy. While the task elicited both cognitive and affective empathy, successful tracking of others' emotions relied predominantly on the cognitive components of empathy. The fMRI data analysis techniques developed here may prove valuable in characterising the neural basis of empathic difficulties observed across a range of psychiatric conditions.

U2 - 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.080

DO - 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.080

M3 - Article

VL - 178

SP - 677

EP - 686

JO - NeuroImage

JF - NeuroImage

SN - 1053-8119

ER -