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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Empathy is thought to play a key role in motivating prosocial behavior, guiding our preferences and behavioral responses, and providing the affective and motivational base for moral development. While this socioemotional ability has traditionally been examined using behavioral methods, recent work in affective neuroscience has begun to shed light on the neural circuitry within the amygdala, insula and orbitofrontal cortex that instantiates it. This chapter critically examines the current knowledge in affective neuroscience, including theory of mind, and provides an integrative and comprehensive view of the neurocomputational mechanisms that underlie interpersonal sensitivity. Also addressed is emotion-processing dysfunction in individuals with psychopathy and how this can account for their lack of empathy and callous disregard for the welfare of others.

Keywords: empathy, theory of mind, affective neuroscience, amygdala, insula, orbitofrontal cortex, neural circuitry

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