Mice Share Each Other’s Pain and Fear

A study published January 8 in Science has found that the brain circuits engaged during empathetic behaviors in mice differ depending on the emotion they are experiencing. The social transmission of pain, for example, is mediated by a pathway involving the brain’s anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the nucleus accumbens (NAc), while empathy-based fear is dictated by projections leading from the ACC to a region called the basolateral amygdala (BLA). These results also show, for the first time, that observing a neighbor having its pain alleviated can make a mouse’s own pain more tolerable.

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