Brain Circuits Same for Empathy, Violence

VALENCIA, Spain, April 12 (UPI) — The same parts of the brain that deal with violence also deal with empathy, researchers in Spain said.

Lead author Luis Moya Albiol of the Universidad de Valencia in Spain said the prefrontal and temporal cortex of the brain, the brain’s amygdala and other features of the limbic system — parts of the brains that process emotional reactions — play a role in all situations involving empathy.

Moya Albiol said these parts of the brain overlap in a surprising way with those that regulate aggression and violence.

“Just as our species could be considered the most violent, since we are capable of serial killings, genocide and other atrocities, we are also the most empathetic species, which would seem to be the other side of the coin,” Moya Albiol said in a statement.

“We all know that encouraging empathy has an inhibiting effect on violence, but this may not only be a social question but also a biological one — stimulation of these neuronal circuits in one direction reduces their activity in the other.”

The findings are published in the Spanish journal Revista de Neurologia.

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