Empathy is often conceptualised as an emotional response elicited by another’s affective state, and it is considered to play an important role in facilitating social bonding, prosocial behaviour towards others in need, and that it may be linked to the development of morality. Some of the most severe forms of conduct disorders that are costly for society are usually characterised by blunted empathy or callousness.
The York Developmental Social Neuroscience Lab researches the early origins of typical and atypical empathy development by using a variety of behavioural, psychophysiology and brain response methods. Electroencephalography (EEG) and Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) are particularly valuable methods because they can give us insights into the neurocognitive processes underlying nonverbal infants’ responses to others’ emotions, and how these may motivate pro-social behaviour. These findings have the potential to help in promoting healthy socio-emotional development and in finding strategies for the early detection and prevention of related disorders.
Dr Geangu is interested in investigating how infants and toddlers develop the ability to resonate empathically with others, as well as how they develop a complex understanding of the fact that others’ behaviours are driven by mental states like emotions and intentions.