Can mice feel each other's pain?


Yes, mice can exhibit behaviors that suggest they can sense and respond to each other's pain. In a study mentioned by Dr. Robert Malenka, a behavioral assay showed that a mouse, referred to as the "bystander mouse," would display pain behaviors after spending time with another mouse that was in pain, even though the bystander mouse had not experienced any physical injury itself. This indicates that mice can be affected by the emotional state of another mouse in their immediate environment, a phenomenon that points towards the presence of empathy or empathic behaviors in mice 1. Further studies have shown that mice can also experience what is called "social transfer of pain relief," where a mouse in pain will show signs of analgesia after being with another mouse that has received pain relief, suggesting a social buffering of pain among mice 2.

The Power of Empathy

Robert discusses the concept of empathy and its evolutionary significance, highlighting a fascinating behavioral assay involving mice that demonstrates how one mouse can feel the pain of another.

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