Dr. James Coan, University of Virginia – The Human Brain and Empathy

Dr. James Coan – The Human Brain and Empathy


Scientists have long known that when the people we love most are near, we are happier and healthier. In our laboratory, we use brain imaging to measure the activity of the functioning brain during periods of mild stress, and during the momentary relief from that stress brought about by contact with another person—contact in the form of simple handholding. In our research, we’ve found that the brain doesn’t respond as strongly to the threat of electric shock if we are holding the hand of someone we love and trust.