Rats Might Be Empathic and Will Help Other Rats in Need

Rats are empathic and will help other rats in need

 

Humans like to believe they are special. With the Christmas season ahead, compassion is on our mind. We often feel that compassion makes humans noble, it seems to elevate us above the other, seemingly selfish animals. This stance is engraved in our idiom: the word ‘humane’, which up to the 18th century simply meant human, now stands for compassionate, while the word ‘bestial’, which originally meant related to animals, now stands for brutality and cruelty.

 

Recent research now questions this assumption: animals, yes even rats, seem to share the distress of others and take action to help them. Sharing the emotions of others

 

A key element of human compassion is the sensitivity to other people’s emotions. In the book “The Empathic Brain”, I tell the story of how our lab and a handful of colleagues discovered that our brain is deeply empathic.

 

by Christian Keysers, Ph.D.