The function of the medial prefrontal cortex in emotions and empathy

  • Leon Skottnik


Several approaches divide empathy into emotional and cognitive subparts. The emotional reactions are strongly related to the mirror neuron system and interact with cognitive processes as the theory of mind. The aim of this review is to investigate the relationship between empathy and emotions. For this reason the review focuses on the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), because it is involved in empathy, emotion regulation, and self-conscious emotions. Overall, it can be concluded that mPFC distinguishes between self-generated emotions and empathy-generated emotions based on a self-other distinction. These findings suggest a shared network of empathy, emotion regulation and self-conscious emotions in cortical regions.