ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2020, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (3): 294-306.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2020.00294

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


李雄1,2, 李祚山2, 向滨洋2, 孟景1,2()   

  1. 1 重庆市人文社科重点研究基地课程与教学研究基地
    2 重庆师范大学应用心理学重点实验室, 重庆 401331
  • 收稿日期:2019-09-27 发布日期:2020-01-18 出版日期:2020-03-25
  • 通讯作者: 孟景
  • 基金资助:
    * 重庆市教委人文社会科学科研项目资助(19JD025)

Empathy for pain in Individuals with autistic traits influenced by attention cues: Evidence from an ERP study

LI Xiong1,2, LI Zuoshan2, XIANG Binyang2, MENG Jing1,2()   

  1. 1 Chongqing Research Institute of Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education, Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing 401331, China
    2 Key Laboratory of Applied Psychology, Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing 401331, China
  • Received:2019-09-27 Online:2020-01-18 Published:2020-03-25
  • Contact: MENG Jing


自闭特质个体在日常生活中表现出共情缺损, 但其程度较自闭症谱系障碍个体低, 并且注意线索和特异性的面孔加工可能会影响他们的共情加工进程。因此, 本研究采用事件相关电位(ERP)技术, 以疼痛面孔图片作为刺激材料, 让自闭特质组和控制组分别完成疼痛判断任务(该任务中被试的注意指向疼痛线索)和吸引力判断任务(该任务中被试的注意不指向疼痛线索)。结果发现, 相比控制组, 自闭特质组在吸引力判断任务中疼痛面孔图片诱发的P3波幅更大, 而在疼痛判断任务中两组没有显著差异。这表明注意线索会影响自闭特质个体对他人疼痛面孔的共情反应, 当自闭特质个体不注意他人面孔的疼痛线索时, 其疼痛共情能力会减弱。

关键词: 共情, 疼痛共情, 自闭症谱系障碍, 自闭特质, 事件相关电位


Previous studies have found that the behavioral patterns of individuals with autistic traits are similar to those of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). That is, individuals with autistic traits show the impairment of empathy in daily life, but the severity of such impairment is not enough to meet the clinical diagnostic criteria for ASD. The similar behaviors between the two mean that studying individuals with autistic traits can help us understand the empathy characteristics of ASD. At present, the results of studies on the empathy for pain of autistic individuals are not consistent. It is possible that attention cues and specific face processing affect their empathy processing.
Therefore, in this study, pictures of painful faces were used as stimulus materials, and the event-related potentials (ERP) technique was adopted to explore the effect of attention cues on the pain empathy processing in autistic individuals. The study randomly selected 30 healthy undergraduates (15 males) as the autistic trait group, and 30 healthy undergraduates (16 males) as the control group. The experiment, based on three-factor mixed design (2×2×2), included two tasks: 1) Pain judgment task: The subjects were required to judge whether there was pain in the pictures of the painful faces (with a needle in the cheek) and the pictures of the non-painful faces (touched gently with a cotton swab), where the subjects' attention was directed to the pain cues. 2) Attractiveness judgment task: The subjects were required to judge whether the faces were attractive or unattractive, where the subjects' attention did not point to the pain cues. EEG during the observation of pictures under different experiment tasks was recorded by a 64-channel amplifier using a standard 10-20 system (Brain Products).
The ERP results revealed that the attention cues would influence the late cognitive processing stage component P3, but not the early automatic component. Compared with the control group, the autistic trait group induced a larger P3 amplitude by the painful face pictures in the attractiveness judgment task; however, in the pain judgment task, there was no significant difference between the two groups.
This suggests that top-down attention to visual pain cues may modulate the late processing of pain empathy in autistic individuals, as manifested in the following fact: When autistic individuals pay attention to pain cues, they have similar empathic neural responses to the control group; when they do not pay attention to pain cues, they process other people's painful faces to a higher degree. This result also suggests that autistic individuals may avoid other people's face information, and provides evidence for the empathy deficit of autistic individuals. This conclusion is helpful for understanding the cognitive processing characteristics and influencing factors of pain empathy in ASD.

Key words: empathy, empathy for pain, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), autistic traits, event related potentials (ERP)