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Exploring empathy and altruism in the animal world

Back in 2011, a study (subscription required) showing how a group of lab rats repeatedly freed their trapped friends (often even choosing to do so before eating a coveted snack) garnered a fair amount of media buzz. Researchers involved in the study said the findings suggested that empathy, driven by another's pain, was not limited to humans and animals of higher intelligence but rather was widespread in the animal kingdom.

In the latest NeuroTalk podcast, Forrest Collman, PhD, interviews study co-author Peggy Mason, PhD, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, about the experiment. During the talk they discuss what led Mason to investigate empathy and helping behaviors, and whether she would free a friend at the expense of having to share a tasty treat.

Previously: Stanford students launch NeuroTalk podcast series

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