Empathy refers to the communication of affect or experience between individuals. One possible outward manifestation of empathy is helping. Here we describe the development of a novel paradigm to test for helping in rats. Potential helper rats are allowed to freely roam in an arena where a rat is trapped in a centrally located Plexiglas restrainer. Hour-long experimental sessions are repeated for 12days. Over progressive days, rats open the restrainer door with increasing consistency and at a decreasing latency. Door-opening does not require that the free rat have the opportunity to play with the released rat. It is also of value to the free rat, on a par with highly palatable food, and is socially selective. Furthermore, door opening behavior is blocked by treatment with a benzodiazepine anxiolytic, demonstrating that door opening is emotionally motivated. Despite the many positive virtues of empathic helping, empathy and helping can also produce antisocial consequences.
|Title of host publication||Neuronal Correlates of Empathy|
|Subtitle of host publication||From Rodent to Human|
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - 1 Jan 2018|
- emotional contagion
- prosocial behavior
- vicarious stress