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U.S. study done on mice suggests that it is written in the DNA how able someone is to have compassion for others.

In their study, the researchers trained highly social mice to identify a sound played in a specific cage as negative by also having squeaks of distress come from a mouse in that cage. On the other hand, a genetically different strain of mice that were less social didn't make the same negative connection.

These results indicate that the ability to identify and act on another's emotions may have a genetic basis. The researchers hope that understanding empathy in mice will improve knowledge about problems with social interaction that occur in many human psychosocial disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia, depression and addiction.

Empathy means to be able to have an emotional experience and share that experience with another.

What researchers are trying to do is deconstruct empathy into smaller functional units to make it more accessible to biological research.

What they found is that mice were capable of a more complex form of empathy than they ever believed was possible. They believe there's a genetic contribution to the ability for empathy that has broad implications for autism research and other psychosocial disorders.

Future studies will examine the genetic differences between the highly social and less-social strains of mice in an attempt to identify specific genes that may play a role in empathy.


This is the first time that I come to see mice as being empathetic. I have known for a long time that cats and dogs can be empathetic. How about horses, cattle and birds, do they have feelings too?