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The Social Neuroscience of Empathy$
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Jean Decety and William Ickes

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012973

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.001.0001

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“Mirror, Mirror, in My Mind”: Empathy, Interpersonal Competence, and the Mirror Neuron System

“Mirror, Mirror, in My Mind”: Empathy, Interpersonal Competence, and the Mirror Neuron System

Chapter:
(p.183) 14 “Mirror, Mirror, in My Mind”: Empathy, Interpersonal Competence, and the Mirror Neuron System
Source:
The Social Neuroscience of Empathy
Author(s):

Jennifer H. Pfeifer

Mirella Dapretto

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262012973.003.0015

Research in the field of developmental, social, and clinical psychology, and more recently in the neurosciences, has explored the mechanisms underlying empathy and interpersonal competence. This chapter begins by discussing the various definitions of empathy across subfields and demonstrates how such definitions have influenced research in the neurosciences. It then considers a developmental definition of empathy and examines how this construct may be supported by a particular neural mechanism, the mirror neuron system (MNS). It also analyzes the potential role of the MNS in social developmental disorders such as autism as well as in understanding emotion. Finally, it maps future directions for a developmental social neuroscience approach to empathy.

Keywords:   empathy, interpersonal competence, mirror neuron system, social developmental disorders, autism, emotion, developmental social neuroscience

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