Impairment in cognitive and affective empathy in patients with brain lesions: Anatomical and cognitive correlates

Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, R. Tomer, D. Goldsher, B. D. Berger, J. Aharon-Peretz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study was designed to examine the degree of impairment in cognitive and affective empathy among patients with focal brain lesions, and the contribution of specific cognitive abilities (such as cognitive flexibility and processing of emotional information), to empathy. The cognitive and affective empathic response of patients with localized prefrontal lesions (n=36) was compared to responses of patients with parietal lesions (n=15) and healthy control subjects (n=19). Results indicate that patients with prefrontal lesions (especially those with lesions involving the orbitoprefrontal and medial regions) were significantly impaired in both cognitive and affective empathy as compared to parietal patients and healthy controls. When the damage was restricted to the prefrontal cortex, either left- or right-hemisphere lesions resulted in impaired empathy. However, when the lesion involved the right hemisphere, patients with parietal lesions were also impaired. The pattern of relationships between cognitive performance and empathy suggested dissociation between the cognitive correlates of affective and cognitive empathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1127
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was partially supported by a research grant from the National Institute for Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured, Israel. S.G. Shamay-Tsoory was supported by a doctoral research grant from the Israel Foundation Trustees. We are grateful to Margo Lapidot for providing the Hebrew version of the Prosody test.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Psychology


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