PublicationsResponsibility modulates pain-matrix activation elicited by the expressions of others in pain
Here we examine whether brain responses to dynamic facial expressions of pain are influenced by our responsibility for the observed pain. Participants played a flanker task with a confederate. Whenever either erred, the confederate was seen to receive a noxious shock. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we found that regions of the functionally localized pain-matrix of the participants (the anterior insula in particular) were activated most strongly when seeing the confederate receive a noxious shock when only the participant had erred (and hence had full responsibility). When both or only the confederate had erred (i.e. participant’s shared or no responsibility), significantly weaker vicarious pain-matrix activations were measured.