The brain that longs to care for others: The current neuroscience of compassion

Larry Stevens, Jasmine Benjamin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


The practice and teaching of compassion have an extensive history reaching back literally thousands of years. Compassion is most commonly defined as a sensitivity to the suffering of another and a desire to alleviate that suffering. We review here the current neuroscience of compassion and conceptualize this critical human virtue as hierarchically and temporally organized by affective, motivational-intentional, self-other differentiated, and higher order regulatory components. We further present an integrated theory for the neuroscience of compassion and review supportive research. Directions for future investigations into the neuroscience of compassion are also offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Neuroscience of Empathy, Compassion, and Self-Compassion
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9780128098370
ISBN (Print)9780128098387
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Bottom-up
  • Compassion
  • Emotion
  • Intention
  • Mentalizing
  • Neuroscience
  • Theory of mind
  • Top-down

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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