Poster B14, Sunday, March 25, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Measuring Empathic Influences on Perceptual and Motor Processing with ERPs, EEG Oscillations, and Response Force
Sarah Fabi1, Hartmut Leuthold1; 1University of Tübingen, Germany
The time course and automaticity of processing components influenced by empathy for pain is still debated. For instance, it is unclear whether late motor processing stages are automatically influenced by empathy-related information, and if so, if they are facilitated or inhibited. Extending similar previous studies, it was the present aim to investigate within the same experiment automatic and controlled empathic influences on the different processing stages, from early encoding over later categorization to motor processing stages. To this end, participants performed either a pain judgment or a counting task to pictures of body parts that were depicted in painful or neutral situations. In addition to reaction time (RT), we analyzed event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to investigate empathic influences on perceptual and cognitive processing as well as oscillatory brain activity and response force (RF) as markers of motor processing. The Early Posterior Negativity (EPN; 200-300 ms) indicated an early automatic empathic influence on the perceptual encoding stage, whereas the late posterior positivity (P3) revealed a later and controlled influence on the categorization stage. RF and RT results revealed facilitated motor processing if participants attentively processed the pain dimension of the stimulus. EEG oscillations (mu and beta band) after response onset indicated an automatic and larger excitability of the motor cortex for painful than neutral stimuli. Together, empathy for pain seems to influence perceptual, cognitive categorization and motor processing stages.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions