Ying and Yang of Empathy and Aggression Differ for Boys and Girls

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Eider Pascual-Sagastizabal, PhD

Professor of Evolutionary Psychology and Education
University School of Education of Bilbao (Leioa)
University of the Basque Country 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The search for markers of aggression during childhood is a particularly relevant area of research, since the results of intervention and prevention during this developmental stage are more promising than those obtained during later stages. The psychobiological approach to aggressive behavior is of particular importance, as it analyzes the joint, interactive influence of both psychological and biological variables.

We have found that there are different interactions on a biological and psychological level that could account for aggressive behavior in children. More deeply, empathy and hormones could together account for aggressive behavior. In fact, the interactions were different for boys and for girls.  Continue reading

How Doctors Communicate Empathy Critical to Family-Physician Partnership

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Tessie W. October. MD, MPH Critical Care Specialist Children’s National Health System

Dr. October

Dr. Tessie W. October. MD, MPH
Critical Care Specialist
Children’s National Health System 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: This is a qualitative study that examines the impact of empathetic statements made by doctors on the ensuing conversation with families of critically ill children. We know families are more satisfied when doctors show empathy, but until this study, we did not know how these empathetic statements are received by families. In this study we found that doctors frequently respond to a family’s emotions by responding with empathy, but how the doctor presented that empathetic statement mattered. When doctors made an empathetic statement, then paused to allow time for a family’s response, the family was 18 times more likely to share additional information about their fears, hopes or values. Conversely, when doctors buried the empathetic statement within medical talk or if a second doctor interrupted, the empathetic statement frequently went unheard by the family.

Continue reading

Highly Empathetic People Perceive Music Differently

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Divine Piano” by François Philipp is licensed under CC BY 2.0Zachary Wallmark, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Musicology Directo
MuSci Lab SMU Meadows School of the Art
Music Division Dallas, TX 75275

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Music making and listening is an intensely social behavior. Individual differences in trait empathy are associated with preferential engagement of social cognitive neural circuitry, including regions of the medial prefrontal cortex, cingulate, and insula, during the perception of socially relevant information.

In our study, we used fMRI to explore the degree to which differences in trait empathy modulate music processing in the brain.

We found that higher empathy people experience greater activation of social circuitry as well as the reward system while listening to familiar music, compared to lower empathy people.  Continue reading