We were honored to host University of Chicago Professor of Neurobiology, Dr. Peggy Mason, for I2’s latest journal club, where we discussed her work in studying empathy and helping behavior in mice. Her work has indicated a somewhat counterintuitive claim: that not only is helping a common behavior, but also that it feels good. We discuss the implications of her work and more!
Dr. Mason’s Bio from her page at the University of Chicago After a 25-year focus on the cellular mechanisms of pain modulation (how does morphine work? and related questions), my laboratory’s energy is now focused on the biological basis of empathy and helping. Important questions include:
Do rats help another in distress? Yes Who do they help? Strangers and familiars alike, as long as they know the type (strain) of rat What motivates rats to help another in distress? This is a work in progress but right now, it looks as though the motivation is a rodent version of empathy What are the brain circuits that support affective communication between two individuals? We are using a variety of methods to go into the brain and understand the circuits underlying pro-social behavior
In addition to leading a research laboratory, I am committed to teaching neurobiology to anyone that will listen. As the first “neuroevangelist,” I tweet as @NeuroMOOC and blog at http://thebrainissocool.com. I am also thrilled to be able to teach neurobiology to the interested public through a massively open online course (MOOC) on Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/course/neuro…. My initial session of Understanding the Brain: The Neurobiology of Everyday Life was offered in 2014 and attracted more than 55,000 students; a second session will be starting up in early 2015. I welcome all to come join in the neuro-fun!