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Effects of 25 mg oxazepam on emotional mimicry and empathy for pain: a randomized controlled experiment

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ABSTRACT

Emotional mimicry and empathy are mechanisms underlying social interaction. Benzodiazepines have been proposed to inhibit empathy and promote antisocial behaviour. First, we aimed to investigate the effects of oxazepam on emotional mimicry and empathy for pain, and second, we aimed to investigate the association of personality traits to emotional mimicry and empathy. Participants (n=76) were randomized to 25 mg oxazepam or placebo. Emotional mimicry was examined using video clips with emotional expressions. Empathy was investigated by pain stimulating the participant and a confederate. We recorded self-rated experience, activity in major zygomatic and superciliary corrugator muscles, skin conductance, and heart rate. In the mimicry experiment, oxazepam inhibited corrugator activity. In the empathy experiment, oxazepam caused increased self-rated unpleasantness and skin conductance. However, oxazepam specifically inhibited neither emotional mimicry nor empathy for pain. Responses in both experiments were associated with self-rated empathic, psychopathic and alexithymic traits. The present results do not support a specific effect of 25 mg oxazepam on emotional mimicry or empathy.

No MeSH data available.


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Empathy for pain: heart rate. (a,b) The first dotted vertical line shows the onset of the stimulus cue. The second dotted vertical line shows the onset of the shock and the shock cue. The grey area shows the time window for which signal was averaged. (c,d) In the self high condition, there was a large peristimulus peak. We did not include this peak in the time window for further analysis, because it may represent non-cardiac signal sources such as the electrical pain stimulus itself and associated muscle activity.
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RSOS160607F9: Empathy for pain: heart rate. (a,b) The first dotted vertical line shows the onset of the stimulus cue. The second dotted vertical line shows the onset of the shock and the shock cue. The grey area shows the time window for which signal was averaged. (c,d) In the self high condition, there was a large peristimulus peak. We did not include this peak in the time window for further analysis, because it may represent non-cardiac signal sources such as the electrical pain stimulus itself and associated muscle activity.

Mentions: There was a main effect of high versus low shock intensity (0.076, [0.049, 0.104], p<0.0001), but not of other versus self condition (0.012, [−0.016, 0.039], p=0.41) and a two-way interaction (−0.051, [−0.091, −0.011], p=0.01, figure 9a,b), such that heart rate responses were highest in response to high-intensity shocks and to self. Oxazepam did not have a main effect on heart rate (−0.006, [−0.044, 0.032], p=0.74, figure 9a,b).Figure 9.


Effects of 25 mg oxazepam on emotional mimicry and empathy for pain: a randomized controlled experiment
Empathy for pain: heart rate. (a,b) The first dotted vertical line shows the onset of the stimulus cue. The second dotted vertical line shows the onset of the shock and the shock cue. The grey area shows the time window for which signal was averaged. (c,d) In the self high condition, there was a large peristimulus peak. We did not include this peak in the time window for further analysis, because it may represent non-cardiac signal sources such as the electrical pain stimulus itself and associated muscle activity.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5383810&req=5

RSOS160607F9: Empathy for pain: heart rate. (a,b) The first dotted vertical line shows the onset of the stimulus cue. The second dotted vertical line shows the onset of the shock and the shock cue. The grey area shows the time window for which signal was averaged. (c,d) In the self high condition, there was a large peristimulus peak. We did not include this peak in the time window for further analysis, because it may represent non-cardiac signal sources such as the electrical pain stimulus itself and associated muscle activity.
Mentions: There was a main effect of high versus low shock intensity (0.076, [0.049, 0.104], p<0.0001), but not of other versus self condition (0.012, [−0.016, 0.039], p=0.41) and a two-way interaction (−0.051, [−0.091, −0.011], p=0.01, figure 9a,b), such that heart rate responses were highest in response to high-intensity shocks and to self. Oxazepam did not have a main effect on heart rate (−0.006, [−0.044, 0.032], p=0.74, figure 9a,b).Figure 9.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Emotional mimicry and empathy are mechanisms underlying social interaction. Benzodiazepines have been proposed to inhibit empathy and promote antisocial behaviour. First, we aimed to investigate the effects of oxazepam on emotional mimicry and empathy for pain, and second, we aimed to investigate the association of personality traits to emotional mimicry and empathy. Participants (n=76) were randomized to 25&thinsp;mg oxazepam or placebo. Emotional mimicry was examined using video clips with emotional expressions. Empathy was investigated by pain stimulating the participant and a confederate. We recorded self-rated experience, activity in major zygomatic and superciliary corrugator muscles, skin conductance, and heart rate. In the mimicry experiment, oxazepam inhibited corrugator activity. In the empathy experiment, oxazepam caused increased self-rated unpleasantness and skin conductance. However, oxazepam specifically inhibited neither emotional mimicry nor empathy for pain. Responses in both experiments were associated with self-rated empathic, psychopathic and alexithymic traits. The present results do not support a specific effect of 25&thinsp;mg oxazepam on emotional mimicry or empathy.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus