Can empathy be taught? A number of scientists are using a combination of biofeedback and brain scans as evidence that there is a way to improve mental feelings and boost feelings of empathy.
Scientists hope to take information on these studies and approach the research in a way that will effectively treat people who suffer from conditions like postpartum depression and mental illness. It is also believed that the study of empathy may assist people who have conditions ranging from mild autism to psychopaths. These scientists state that this is the first study that sites the complicated emotions that are connected to empathy.
Jorge Moll from the Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience Unit at Rio de Janeiro’s D’Or Institute for Research and Education utters that other scientific groups have been monitoring the regions of the brain that are tied to emotions. However, since empathy is such a complex emotion, it’s essential to explore several components of the brain simultaneously.
In an interview with NBC News, Moll states that he and other scientists are interested in emotions that motivate humans to perform unselfish acts for others, right their wrongs and try to improve overall. He shares that the purpose of the study was to map the emotions that led to these actions and to allow people to train themselves to feel these emotions.
The concept is one that has been studied for quite some time, and was even explained in ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep,’ a novel by Philip Dick published in 1968. ‘Blade Runner,’ a film by Ridley Scott also explored the concept of empathy, according to Moll’s research team (https://interview.net/jorge-moll/). The movie featured an “empathy box,” which of course if a figment of the science fiction imagination, but the principle of this device has opened up a world of possibility for researchers and inventors.
Jorge Moll has had years of experienced in the neurosciences and continues to study the effects that empathy has on the brain and body. He is the president and director of D’Or Institute for Research and Education, and is also a senior researcher for the institution. He also has the distinction of being the Education Head of the Neuroinformatics Workgroup and Cognitive Neuroscience Unit (Crunchbase). He received the Research Fellow NIH award for 2004-2007 and was chosen to be an affiliate member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences in 2008.