Functional and structural indices of empathy: Evidence for self-orientation as a neuropsychological foundation of empathy.

Objective: To evaluate a model that hypothesizes that empathy is associated with decreased right parietal lobe (RPL)-related self-orientation (i.e., increased selflessness), which allows individuals to more easily empathize with others.


Participants: Thirty one individuals with documented neuroradiological abnormalities due to traumatic brain injury (TBI) referred for clinical evaluations.

Measures: Cerebral integrity was measured with both functional (i.e., neuropsychological tests) and structural indices (i.e., MRI). Participants were administered comprehensive neuropsychological tests associated with general bilateral frontal, temporal, and parietal lobe functioning, a self-report measure of empathy (i.e., Penner’s Prosocial Personality Battery), and an objective measure of empathy (i.e., Prisoner’s Dilemma).

Johnstone, Brick; Cohen, Dan; Bryant, Kirk R.; Glass, Bret; Christ, Shawn E.