Emotional Mirrors in the Rat's Anterior Cingulate Cortex [article]

M Carrillo, Y Han, F Migliorati, M Liu, V Gazzola, C Keysers
2018 bioRxiv   pre-print
Abstract:How do the emotions of others affect us? The human anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) responds while experiencing pain in the self and witnessing pain in others, but underlying cellular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we show the ACC (area 24) contains neurons responding when a rat experiences pain and while witnessing another receive footshocks. Most of these do not respond to a fear conditioned tone (CS). Deactivating this region reduces freezing while witnessing footshocks to
more » ... others but not while hearing the CS. A decoder trained on spike counts while witnessing footshocks can decode the animal's own pain intensity when experiencing pain. Mirror-like neurons thus exist in ACC that encode the pain of others in a code shared with pain but not fear in the self.One Sentence Summary:ACC contains neurons responding selectively when a rat witnesses another's pain and experiences pain in the self.
doi:10.1101/450643 fatcat:y2so6bmd6rgkpg7xdabgyevj6u