Culture of Empathy Builder:
Peggy Mason and Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Peggy Mason Department
of Neurobiology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.
"my laboratory has begun to concentrate on the biological basis of empathy.
While my interest in pain modulation endures, primarily through
collaborative work, the bulk of the current work in the laboratory is
focused on empathic helping. "
At the Mason Lab we are currently interested in the presence of empathy
and helping behavior in rats. Recently we showed that rats help a
cagemate who is trapped in a Plexiglass tube by deliberately,
intentionally, and rapidly opening the door to the tube and liberating
the cagemate. Rats do not open the door of either an empty restrainer or
one containing a toy rat.
Article: Empathy is a
Mason lab uncovers empathy-driven
helping behavior in rodents
Helping a Cagemate in Need
Rats Might Be Empathic and Will Help Other Rats in Need
Rats Feel Each Other's Pain - ScienceNOW
""In the latest NeuroTalk podcast, Forrest Collman, PhD,
interviews study co-author Peggy Mason, PhD, a neuroscientist at the
University of Chicago, about the experiment. During the talk they
discuss what led Mason to investigate empathy and helping behaviors,
and whether she would free a friend at the expense of having to share a
Back in 2011, a study (subscription required) showing how a group of lab
rats repeatedly freed their trapped friends (often even choosing to do
so before eating a coveted snack) garnered a fair amount of media buzz.
Researchers involved in the study said the findings suggested that
empathy, driven by anotherís pain, was not limited to humans and animals
of higher intelligence but rather was widespread in the animal kingdom."