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Neurobiology of Compassion

The institute will employ state-of-the-art neuroscience technologies, including sophisticated neuroimaging, to identify and map brain activity created by empathic behavior, quantify the factors promoting or inhibiting compassionate behavior and design new methods to increase empathic signals in the brain.

“UC San Diego is an undisputed hub for neurosciences,” said William Mobley, MD, PhD, associate dean of neuroscience initiatives and a long-time advocate for the empirical study of compassion. “There are few places in the world with the expertise, resources and ability to tackle the topic.

“People have long appreciated an important role for compassion for human wellbeing, but only recently have neuroscientists studied how it manifests in the brain. We will engage in studies needed to advance the understanding of the neurobiology of compassion and use the insights derived to enable people to tap into its power for good. Understanding the biological underpinnings will power the dialogues needed to inform medical educators. These insights will also benefit the mentoring and support of current physicians and, most importantly, improve health care for everyone, patients and providers alike.”

Q&A with William Mobley

William Mobley discusses the neurobiology of compassion at great length in this interview.

Read the Interview