Empathy can be predicted from resting state brain connectivity

Empathy can be predicted from resting state brain connectivity

Study reveals new role for gene associated with autism spectrum disorder The predictions were made by looking into resting activity in specific brain networks that earlier studies demonstrated are important for empathy. Researchers used a form of artificial intelligence called machine learning, which can pick up subtle patterns in data that more traditional data analyses might not. "We found that even when not engaged directly in a task that involves empathy, brain activity within these networks can reveal people's empathic disposition," Iacoboni said. "The beauty of the study is that the MRIs helped us predict the results of each participant's questionnaire." The findings could help health care professionals better assess empathy in people with autism or schizophrenia, who may have difficulties filling out questionnaires or expressing emotion. "People with these conditions are thought to lack empathy," he said. "But if we can demonstrate that their brains have the capability for empathy, we can work to improve it through training and the use of other therapies." Furthermore, said lead author Leonardo Christov-Moore, a postdoctoral fellow currently at USC's Brain and Creativity Institute, this technique may be expanded to improve treatment as well as diagnosis. "The predictive power of machine learning algorithms like this one, when applied to brain data, can also help us predict how well a given patient will respond to a given intervention, helping us tailor optimal therapeutic strategies from the get-go." The study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that brains at rest are as active as brains engaged in a task, and that brain networks in the resting brain may interact in a similar fashion as when they are engaged in a task. Iacoboni said future, larger studies may help identify other regions of the brain associated with empathy. Source: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences Journal reference: Christov-Moore, L., et al. (2020) Predicting Empathy From Resting State Brain Connectivity: A Multivariate Approach. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience . doi.org/10.3389/fnint.2020.00003 .



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