Empathy

Developmental psychologist Martin Hoffman posited that "empathic distress, a vicarious feeling through empathy, is transformed into an altruistic motivation." As such, empathy to Hoffman is not a feeling in and of itself but a process that facilitates empathic distress and empathic altruism. fMRI scans illustrate activity in the ACC and the anterior insula bilaterally, "with an extension into the inferior prefrontal cortex, the cerebellum, the brain-stem, and areas related to visual systems" when a woman saw her husband experiencing pain. During empathic distress the ACC and the insula were activated. Hoffman's theory has not been proven, however, there does appear to be a neurological similarity in empathic distress and altuistic motivation.