CBBM Lecture - When affect sharing and self-other distinction fail: understanding empathy from a developmental and clinical perspective

by Giorgia Silani, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Vienna, Austria

 will take place on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022, Time: 3 pm German time (15:00 hours)
Online Location: 

Host: Ulrike Krämer
Department of Neurology

Abstract: Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person, a major component of what has been termed “social intelligence,” is a crucial elements for successful social interactions and wellbeing. In the past decades, social neuroscience has started to shed light into the neural mechanisms underlying empathic brain responses in the normal and pathological populations, by defining the neuronal networks behind the cognitive and affective processes related to this complex social emotion. In this talk I will give an overview of the state of the art on brain research on empathy, by focusing on two main questions: 1)  What are the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying normal empathic responses? 2) How developmental and clinical factors affect our ability to empathize with other people? In the attempt to start a challenging and productive discussion on the aforementioned topics I plan to present both neuroimaging and behavioral studies that have addressed those questions.

About the speaker: Giorgia graduated in clinical psychology at the University of Turin in 1998, and obtained her PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Milano in 2006. Between 2004 and 2006 she worked at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, London, under the supervision of Prof. Uta Frith. In 2007 she was appointed as a post doc at the Center for Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics, University of Zurich, under Prof. Tania Singer. In 2010 she moved to Italy to lead the ‘Collective Emotions and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab’, at SISSA Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Trieste.  Since 2014 she is employed at Department of Applied Psychology: Health, Development, Enhancement and Intervention, University of Vienna. Giorgia´s major research focus lies in the neurobiological basis of social cognition, emotions, and behaviours. Besides the focus on normal population, she investigates the effects of normal and abnormal development on social interactions and cognition.