This study aimed to explorer the neural mechanism underlying embodied empathic feelings in art appreciation. In the study, Freedberg and Gallese suggested the occurrence of embodied empathetic feelings in the observer in viewing the action represented in artworks. However, their study only proposed the involvement of embodied empathic feelings in viewing artworks, and did not explain the neural mechanism underneath it.
With the study by Battaglia et al., this study confirmed that the mirror system not only activates in observing an action performed by others, but also in observing an action represented in artworks. Moreover, based on the concept of empathy defined by Damasio and the neural mechanism of empathy explored by Iacoboni, this study could predict the neural mechanism of embodied empathic feelings in viewing artworks. Once the viewer sees the action represented in artworks, the mirror system responds and thus evokes embodied simulation. Simultaneously, the mirror system sends signals to the limbic system via the insula. The neural activity in the limbic system caused by embodied simulation allows the viewer to feel the emotion associated with the represented action. As a result, you feel what another person feels, thus empathy. This is the neural mechanism of embodied empathic feelings.