The surprising empathic abilities of rodents

Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Mar;16(3):143-4. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2011.12.012. Epub 2011 Dec 27.


Many believe empathy and related pro-social behaviors to be the sole province of humans. The evolutionary antecedents of such phenomena, however, have been observed in lower mammals. By demonstrating empathy-based helping behavior in rats, a recently published study has provided clear-cut evidence that pro-social behaviors are not limited to humans.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Empathy*
  • Helping Behavior*
  • Rats
  • Rodentia / psychology*
  • Social Behavior