Temporal Unfolding of Racial Ingroup Bias in Neural Responses to Perceived Dynamic Pain in Others

 Chenyu Pang1  · Yuqing Zhou2,3 · Shihui Han1
1 School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Key Laboratory of Behavior and Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing 100081, China 
2 CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China 
3 Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

In this study, we investigated how empathic neural responses unfold over time in different empathy networks when viewing same-race and other-race individuals in dynamic painful conditions. We recorded magnetoencephalography signals from Chinese adults when viewing video clips showing a dynamic painful (or non-painful) stimulation to Asian and White models’ faces to trigger painful (or neutral) expressions. We found that perceived dynamic pain in Asian models modulated neural activities in the visual cortex at 100 ms–200 ms, in the orbitofrontal and subgenual anterior cingulate cortices at 150 ms–200 ms, in the anterior cingulate cortex around 250 ms–350 ms, and in the temporoparietal junction and middle temporal gyrus around 600 ms after video onset. Perceived dynamic pain in White models modulated activities in the visual, anterior cingulate, and primary sensory cortices after 500 ms. Our findings unraveled earlier dynamic activities in multiple neural circuits in response to same-race (vs other-race) individuals in dynamic painful situations.

Empathy; Race; Magnetoencephalography; Dynamic pain; Cingulate cortex