Chapter

Nature and Forms of Empathy in the First Years of Life

Sharee Light and Carolyn Zahn-Waxler

in Empathy

Published by The MIT Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780262016612
Published online August 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780262298612 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262016612.003.0007
Nature and Forms of Empathy in the First Years of Life

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This chapter discusses different forms of empathy, including empathic concern, empathic happiness, and empathic cheerfulness, which are present in the first years of life. It explores the evolution of empathy from parental care and the role of positive emotions in the infant–parent relationship, which is responsible for developing positive forms of empathy. The chapter looks at amygdalae, ventral striatum/nucleus accumbens, the hypothalamus, and the medial network of the orbitofrontal cortex involved in early empathy, and discusses the development of empathic concern, empathic happiness, and empathic cheerfulness involving interactions of the above-mentioned hypothesized structures. Assessing the neurocircuitry of empathy patterns using neuroimaging techniques is also discussed.

Keywords: empathic happiness; empathic cheerfulness; amygdalae; ventral striatum; orbitofrontal cortex; neurocircuitry

Chapter.  8712 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuropsychology

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