Commentary: Cognitive and emotional empathy in transdiagnostic research - reflections on Klapwijk et al. (2016).

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TitleCommentary: Cognitive and emotional empathy in transdiagnostic research - reflections on Klapwijk et al. (2016).
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHerrington, JD
JournalJ Child Psychol Psychiatry
Volume57
Issue6
Pagination748-9
Date Published2016 06
ISSN1469-7610
KeywordsAutism Spectrum Disorder, Cognition, Conduct Disorder, Emotions, Empathy, Humans
Abstract

Evidence across multiple disorders indicates that empathy is a transdiagnostic dimension of psychopathology. Klapwijk et al.'s (2016) functional MRI study examines whether autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and conduct disorder (CD) can be distinguished by the constructs of 'cognitive' and 'emotional' empathy - with the former focusing on accurate emotion perception and the latter on shared affective experience. This commentary examines the implications of the cognitive/emotional empathy distinction, and how it fits with existing accounts of perceptual differences in ASD. Cognitive empathy overlaps substantially with the constructs of emotion perception and Theory of Mind - both well studied among individuals with ASD, but generally viewed as fairly distinct from empathy. CD, on the other hand, is typically not associated with frank perceptual deficits. Although the brain imaging data from this study do not provide strong support for the constructs of cognitive and emotional empathy, the general approach used in this study is precisely the kind needed to test the validity and utility of transdiagnostic mechanisms of psychopathology.

DOI10.1111/jcpp.12554
Alternate JournalJ Child Psychol Psychiatry
PubMed ID27192955
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