When hurt, rodents may console each other: neural mechanisms underlying empathetic responses

Young said his research points to a potential role for oxytocin in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder, though more work is needed. “

We now have the opportunity to explore in detail the neural mechanisms underlying empathetic responses in a laboratory rodent with clear implications for humans.”

According to study co-author Frans de Waal, who first discovered animal consolation behavior in chimpanzees in 1979, the findings also shed new light on the range of animals that feel empathy, and how empathy is separate from complex cognition.

Scientists have been reluctant to attribute empathy to animals, often assuming selfish motives,” he said.