The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Somebody else’s disgust is also yours

Washington, Oct. 29 (Reuters): You don’t need to actually see or smell something unpleasant to know it is disgusting — you only need to look at someone else’s expression, according to research published today.

The brain responds the same whether a person actually experiences something disgusting, or just sees another person reacting, Italian researchers found.

Writing in the October 30 issue of the journal Neuron, they said they saw the same brain activity in people who smelled a foul odour and in those looking at someone else smelling a foul odour. Giacomo Rizzolatti of the University of Parma, Italy, and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to watch brain activity “live.”

The same may be true of other emotional reactions, they said.

The insula and the cingulate cortex areas of the brain were most active in both groups, they reported.

”The present findings indicate that seeing someone else's facial expressions triggers the neural activity typical of our own experience of the same emotion,” they wrote.

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