Altered functional connectivity of the default mode network in low-empathy subjects

Seung Jun Kim, Sung Eun Kim, Hyo Eun Kim, Kiwan Han, Bumseok Jeong, Jae Jin Kim, Kee Namkoong, Ji Woong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Empathy is the ability to identify with or make a vicariously experience of another person’s feelings or thoughts based on memory and/or self-referential mental simulation. The default mode network in particular is related to self-referential empathy. In order to elucidate the possible neural mechanisms underlying empathy, we investigated the functional connectivity of the default mode network in subjects from a general population. Resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired from 19 low-empathy subjects and 18 medium-empathy subjects. An independent component analysis was used to identify the default mode network, and differences in functional connectivity strength were compared between the two groups. The low-empathy group showed lower functional connectivity of the medial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex (Brodmann areas 9 and 32) within the default mode network, compared to the medium-empathy group. The results of the present study suggest that empathy is related to functional connectivity of the medial prefrontal cortex/anterior cingulate cortex within the default mode network. Functional decreases in connectivity among low-empathy subjects may reflect an impairment of self-referential mental simulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1061-1065
Number of pages5
JournalYonsei medical journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Bum Hee Park for his methodological advice. This work was supported by a grant of the Korea Health 21 R&D Project, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (A050495).

Publisher Copyright:
© Yonsei University College of Medicine 2017.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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