Date of Award

5-2-2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Sharee Light

Second Advisor

Erin Tone

Third Advisor

Jessica Turner

Abstract

Theoretical models propose that executive function may play a role in empathy (to “share in” the emotion of another); however, the specific contribution of executive function to emotional empathic processing remains unclear. This study utilized neuroimaging and neuropsychological measures to examine the relationship between individual differences in executive function abilities (working memory, inhibition, cognitive flexibility, verbal fluency) and empathic responding during an empathy induction paradigm in 20 healthy participants. fMRI analyses revealed that prefrontal brain regions may be important for empathic responding, with empathy for positive emotions recruiting a greater number of prefrontal regions. Prefrontal activation was associated with working memory, but not with other executive function abilities. Findings suggest that working memory abilities contribute to affective empathic responding.

Available for download on Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Share

COinS