Mice seem to experience the pain and the relief of other mice, even when they themselves are not hurt, The Scientist reports. In multiple experiments, pairs of mice sharing the same cage acted as if they were in pain, exhibiting skin hypersensibility and lower tolerance to heat, even when only one received an irritating injection, researchers report this week in Science. What’s more, when the mouse in pain received some soothing morphine, both mice behaved as if they were relieved. The study also found the same brain areas involved in empathic behavior in humans were activated in the mice. That suggests further research in mice could help scientists understand the neural circuits associated with empathy—and help develop treatments for conditions linked to its lack, such as narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy.
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