Cliquies to the classroom

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Empathy or the capacity to recognize emotions displayed by other individuals has played and continues to play a vital role in human social interaction. Our ability to recognize the emotional states of others and the ensuing desire to assist those in need were pivotal in human survival and evolution and are still important today in our social and work lives. The development of empathy while not unique to human beings is part of what enables our success; emotionally isolated individuals are less likely to succeed, survive, and reproduce. Meanwhile individuals who are are well attuned to the feelings and desires of others, and those who act on that intuition, are positioned for success. The Theory of Mind is a widely accepted psychological concept closely associated with the development of empathy in individuals. The theory states that individual humans not only understand the workings of their own mind through introspection but are able to intuit the existence of completely separate minds. This mental capacity is what allows us to exhibit empathy; Having a theory of mind enables individuals to attribute thoughts, desires, and intentions to others, to predict and to explain their motives. Modern understanding of the Theory of Mind involves two separate but related methods to explain how this concept is created: theory-theory and simulation-theory. Theory-theory claims that we posses an innate understanding of the the Theory of Mind. Our ability to understand and empathize with others but is developed automatically though the course of human interaction. Conversely simulation-theory states that empathetical understanding is not innate but an active process. Simulation theorists would say that we do not inherently understand others ... ... middle of paper ... ...te mental states to others and to infer emotional experiences from those states. A study at the University of Manchester in 2005 sought to identify the brain processes involved in these states and to identify which brain systems are involved in both within. In her study Dr. Vollm sought to differentiate feelings of empathy from those feelings associated with the Theory of Mind. Dr. Vollm describes the unique differences between the Theory of Mind and empathy in the ways in which individuals act on their emotions. The Theory of Mind is only the ability to attribute mental states to others, where as empathy involves not only the ability to infer those states but the willingness to share in the emotional experiences of another. In this study the research group sought to investigate the neuronal correlates of both the Theory of Mind and empathy using fMRI brain scans.

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