Brain scans prove physicians’ empathy

It may not come naturally for all doctors to let their empathy show, but new research shows that, on a neurobiological level, physicians do in fact “feel” patients’ pain, as well as their relief following treatment.


For the study, published online this week in Molecular Psychiatry, physicians underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging of their brains while they believed they were treating patients’ pain. During the experiment, when physicians were asked to administer treatment they were told would provide pain relief, the same parts of their brain activated as they would with a placebo response, according to the Harvard-affiliated research team.


By Debra Beaulieu