Anthony Jack, PhD (Tony) is Assistant Professor of Cognitive
Science, Philosophy, and Psychology in the Brain, Mind and Consciousness
laboratory in the Department of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve
University, Cleveland, Ohio.
He says, "I have a PhD in Experimental Psychology and extensive training in
Philosophy and Neuroscience. I started out doing largely theoretical work
on consciousness, but then got interested by the emerging field of brain
imaging. I use fMRI to study attention, consciousness and social processing
in the brain."
Tony has been studying empathy and was involved in a
study that looks at the analytic and empathic neural networks and how
they relate to each other. This article 'Empathy
represses analytic thought, and vice versa' on Science Blog says,
"When the brain fires
up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the
network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve
University researcher shows... At rest, our brains cycle between the
social and analytical networks. But when presented with a task, healthy
adults engage the appropriate neural pathway, the researchers found.
The study shows for the first time that we have a
built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and
analytic at the same time." Sub Conference:
evidence shows that adopting an analytic frame of mind suppresses brain
areas involved in empathy, and emotionally engaging with others
suppresses brain areas involved in analytic thought. This presents a
challenge for contexts that require both forms of thought.
Managers, teachers and doctors all have
professional roles in which optimal performance depends both on a
capacity for clear analytic thought, and on their ability to
emotionally resonate with others. This panel brings together three
experts in the neuroscience of empathy and how to train it. They
discuss the challenges involved in fostering a balance between
empathy and analysis in professional life, and suggest solutions. Sub Conference:
For years, physicians have beenurgedto
patient encounters, but most doctors would tell you it isn't quite that
simple. For physicians who struggle to balance empathy with analytic
thinking during patient visits, neuroscience researcher and
Jack, PhD,has a somewhat comforting explanation: It's not your
fault, it's your brain's.
April 2013 - Big Ideas: Mind Matters
"Case Western Reserve University’s Anthony Jack works at the
intersection of psychology and philosophy. By studying the inner
workings of the brain with MRI scans, he hopes to bridge the gulf that
separates analytical thinking and empathetic behavior. "
First, most attention-demanding cognitive tasks activate a stereotypical
set of brain areas, known as the task-positive network and
simultaneously deactivate a different set of brain regions, commonly
referred to as the task negative or default mode network.
Second, functional connectivity analyses show that these same opposed
networks are anti-correlated in the resting state. We hypothesize that
these reciprocally inhibitory effects reflect two incompatible cognitive
modes, each of which is directed towards understanding the external
world. Thus, engaging one mode activates one set of regions and
suppresses activity in the other"
"Functional magnetic imaging has allowed
researchers to view the brain as it struggles to multi-task empathetic
feelings and analytical thoughts. The discovery may explain why even the
most intelligent can fall for hard-luck stories or when significant
decisions are viewed as insensitive or uncaring. Investigators say the
brain normally balances a neural pathway driven by hard analytical facts
against a neural pathway that evokes a softer emotional response."
A number of earlier studies showed that two large scale
brain networks are in tension in the brain, one which is known as the
default mode network and a second known as the task positive network.
But other researchers have suggested that different mechanisms drive
this tension:One theory
says that we have one network for engaging in goal directed tasks. This
theory posits that our second network allows the mind to wander.The other theory says that one network is for external attention,
and the second network is for internal attention.