Empathy helped people understand the feelings of others by sharing the emotions of others. Empathy makes it easier for society members communicated better perform pro-social behavior with each other. Therefore, the study of empathy mechanisms has important to build harmonious society.
The neural loops, molecular mechanisms and other detailed information about empathy still unknown based on studies on empathy today. In recent years, researchers have found that empathy also exists in animals. In addition to analyzing the brain activity of human subjects by brain imaging technology, we are able to use animal models to study empathy from gene and molecular levels, exploring the neural mechanisms of empathy. The establishment of animal model is the basis of these studies.
Study 1 established the pain empathy model in rats based on the characteristics of existing rodent empathy models in previous researches. The device of the model was assembled with an open field and a hot plate. The behavior of observers in open field was recorded while observing the demonstrator on hot plate. It was found that some activity parameters of observers such as duration time, entry latency, etc. in the center area can be used as empathy indicators. Study 2 examines the regularity of observer's empathic behavior changes when demonstrators undergoing different intensity pain stimulus. The results showed that within a certain range, observers' empathic behavior increases with the intensity of pain stimulus received by demonstrators. However, if stimulating intensity exceeds the range, the empathic behaviors were weakened, showed fear avoidance behavior. Study 3 explored the effect of different doses of oxytocin in rats' empathic behaviors by injection of normal saline or 0.1 gg, 1 gg, and 10 gg oxytocin into the observer's lateral ventricle. This study found that larger dose (10 gg) of oxytocin increase the rat's empathic behaviors.
In this study, a pain empathy model in rats was established. Then the regulation of empathic behavior by pain intensity and central injection of oxytocin were in examined this model. The rationality of the model was verified. The successful establishment of the rat empathy model laid the foundation for future research on the central and molecular mechanisms of empathy.