Yawei Cheng
Cognitive Neuroscience
Name Yawei Cheng
Email yaweicheng@gmail.com
Office Tel No. +886-2-2826-7912
Institute of Neuroscience,National Yang-Ming University
Rehabilitation Department,National Yang-Ming University Hospital(Yilan)
Research Neural mechanisms of empathy and sympathy

Lab Members

Chengyi Chen Yi-Jhen Chen 洪群甯 周瀚寧 張筑鈞 陳薇如 黃昱 Marcelo Martinez cuevas

李佳純 朱翎



Jean Decety (University of Chicago, USA) Ching-Po Lin


Research Interest

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My major interest is social neuroscience, using functional MRI, EEG/ERP, and MEG, based on social cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and psychopathology, to investigate the biological underpinning of social interaction. Particularly, I focused on the neural mechanisms of empathy and sympathy. Empathy subsumes a variety of neurobiological circuits and partially dissociable social, emotional and cognitive subsystems that interact and operate in parallel fashion. These systems include bottom-up processing of sensorimotor resonance, affective arousal, and top-down processing in which the perceiver's motivation, intentions, and self-regulation interact with other components, and modulate the extent of an empathic experience and the likelihood of prosocial behavior. Under this theoretical framework, a number of distinct and interacting neural components contribute to the experience of empathy: (1) sensorimotor resonance relying on the perception-action coupling implemented by the mirror neuron system, (2) affective arousal, a bottom-up process in which the amygdala, hypothalamus, and orbitofrontal cortex prioritize emotionally salient information; (3) emotion awareness and understanding which involves the anterior insular cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex; and (4) emotion regulation which depends on executive functions instantiated in the intrinsic cortico-cortical connections of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex with limbic regions and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Each of these networks feeds both forward to other stages of processing thereby enhancing flexible and appropriate behavioral responses. Participants from my studies are typically developing infants, children, adults, and aging as well as individuals with social impairments, such as, autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and psychopathy.

Year Paper Title
2018 Chen C, Róger Marcelo Martínez, Cheng Y* (2018) The developmental origins of the social brain: empathy, morality, and justice. Frontiers in Psychology 9:2584.
2018 Chen C, Chen YC, Chen KL, Cheng Y* (2018) Atypical anxiety-related amygdala reactivity and functional connectivity in Sant Mat Meditation. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 2018; 12: 298.
2018 Chen C, Chan CW, Cheng Y*(2018) Test–retest reliability of mismatch negativity (MMN) to emotional voices.Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 12:453.
2017 Huppert E, Cowell JC, Cheng Y, Contreras-Ibáñez C, Gomez-Sicard N, Gonzalez-Gaeda LM, Huepe D, Ibanez A, Kang Lee K, Mahasneh R, Malcolm-Smith S, Salas N, Selcuk B, Tungodden B, Wong A, Zhou X, Decety J (2018) The development of children’s preferences for equality and equity across 13 individualistic and collectivist cultures. Developmental Science 12: e12729.
2017 Cheng Y*, Chen C, Decety J (2017) How situational context impacts empathic responses and brain activation patterns. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 2017; 11:165.
2016 Chen C, Hu CH, Cheng Y* (2017) Mismatch negativity (MMN) stands at the crossroads between explicit and implicit emotional processing. Human Brain Mapping 2017; 38(1): 140-150.
2016 Chen C, Liu CC, Weng PY, Cheng Y* (2016) Mismatch negativity to threatening voices associated with positive symptoms in schizophrenia. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 2106; 10:362.
2016 Chen C, Hung AY, Fan YT, Tan S, Hong H, Cheng Y* (2016) Linkage between pain sensitivity and empathic response in adolescents with autism spectrum conditions and conduct disorder symptoms. Autism Research 2106; 10(2):267-275.
2016 Chen C, Sung JY, Cheng Y* (2016) Neural dynamics of emotional salience processing in response to voices during the stages of sleep. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 2106;10:117.
2016 Chen C, Decety J, Huang PJ, Chen CY, Cheng Y* (2016) Testosterone administration in females modulates moral judgment and pattern of brain activation and functional connectivity. Human Brain Mapping 2106; 37(10): 3417-3430.
2016 Fan YT, Chen C, Cheng Y* (2016) The neural mechanisms of social learning from fleeting experience with pain. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 2016 10:11.
2015 Chen C, Chen CY, Yang CY, Lin CH, Cheng Y* (2015) Testosterone modulates preattentive sensory processing and involuntary attention switches to emotional voices. Journal of Neurophysiology 113(6): 1842-1849.
2014 Hung AY, Cheng Y* (2014) Sex differences in preattentive perception of emotional voices and acoustic attributes. NeuroReport 25 (7): 464-9.
2014 Chen C, Lee YH, Cheng Y* (2014) Anterior insular cortex activity to emotional salience of voices in a passive oddball paradigm. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8: 743.
2014 Cheng Y*, Chen CY, Decety J (2014) An EEG/ERP investigation of the development of empathy in early and middle childhood. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 10: 160-9.
2014 Fan YT, Cheng Y* (2014) Atypical mismatch negativity in response to emotional voices in people with autism spectrum conditions. PLoS ONE 9(7): e102471.
2014 Chen YC, Chen CC, Decety J, Cheng Y* (2014) Aging is associated with changes in the neural circuits underlying empathy. Neurobiology of Aging 35 (4): 827-836.
2014 Fan YT, Chen CY, Chen SC, Decety J, Cheng Y* (2014) Empathic arousal and social understanding in individuals with autism: evidence from fMRI and ERP measurements. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 9(8): 1203-13.
2013 Fan YT, Hsu YY, Cheng Y* (2013) Sex matters: n-back modulates emotional mismatch negativity. NeuroReport 24(9): 457-63.
2013 Hung AY, Ahveninen J, Cheng Y* (2013) Atypical mismatch negativity to distressful voices associated with conduct disorder symptoms. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 54(9): 1017-1027.
2012 Chen CY, Yang CY, Cheng Y* (2012) Sensorimotor resonance is an outcome but not a platform to anticipating harm to others. Social Neuroscience 7(6): 578-90.
2012 Cheng Y, Chou KH, Fan YT, Lin CP (2011) ANS: Aberrant neurodevelopment of the social cognition network in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. PLoS ONE 6(4): e18905.
2012 Cheng Y*, Hung AY*, Decety J (2012) Dissociation between affective sharing and emotional understanding in juvenile psychopaths. Development and Psychopathology 24:623-636.
2011 Cheng Y, Lee SY, Chen HY, Wang PY, Decety J (2012) Voice and emotion processing in the human neonatal brain. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 24(6): 1411-1419.
2011 Chou KH, Cheng Y, Chen IY, Lin CP, Chu WC (2011) Sex-linked white matter microstructure of the social and analytic brain. NeuroImage 54 (1): 725-733.
2010 Cheng Y*, Chen C, Lin CP, Chou KH, Decety J (2010) Love hurts: an fMRI study. NeuroImage 51(2): 923-929.
2010 Fan YT, Decety J, Yang CY, Liu JL, Cheng Y* (2010) Unbroken mirror neurons in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 51(9): 981-988.
2010 Decety J, Yang CY, Cheng Y* (2010) Physicians down-regulate their pain empathy response: an event-related brain potential study. NeuroImage 50(4): 1676-1682.
2010 Cheng Y, Chou KH, Chen IY, Fan YT, Decety J, Lin CP (2010) Atypical development of white matter microstructure in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. NeuroImage 50(3): 873-882.
2009 Yang CY, Decety J, Lee SY, Chen CY, Cheng Y* (2009) Gender differences in the mu rhythm during empathy for pain: an electrophysiologic study. Brain Research 1251: 176-184.
2009 Cheng Y, Chou KH, Decety J, Chen IY, Hung D, Tzeng OJL, Lin CP (2009) Sex differences in the neuroanatomy of human mirror-neuron system: a voxel-based morphometric investigation. Neuroscience 158(2): 713-720.
2008 Cheng Y, Lee PL, Yang CY, Lin CP, Hung D, Decety J (2008) Gender differences in the mu rhythm of the human mirror-neuron system. PLoS ONE 3(5): e2113.
2008 Cheng Y, Yang CY, Lin CP, Lee PL, Decety J (2008) The perception of pain in others suppresses somatosensory oscillations: a magnetoencephalography study. NeuroImage 40(4): 1833-1840.
2007 Cheng Y, Decety J, Lin CP, Hsieh JC, Hung D, Tzeng OJL (2007) Sex differences in spinal excitability during observation of bipedal locomotion. NeuroReport 18,887-890.
2007 Cheng Y, Lin CP, Liu HL, Hsu YY, Lim KE, Hung D, Decety J (2007) Expertise modulates the perception of pain in others. Current Biology 17(9): 1708-1713.
2007 Cheng Y*, Decety J, Lin CP, Hsieh JC, Hung D, Tzeng OJL (2007) Sex differences in spinal excitability during observation of bipedal locomotion. NeuroReport 18(8): 887-890.
2007 Cheng Y, Melzoff A, Decety J* (2007) Motivation modulates the activity of the human mirror-neuron system. Cerebral Cortex 17(8): 1979-1986.
2006 Cheng Y, Tzeng OJL, Decety J, Imada T, Hsieh JC (2006) Gender differences in the human mirror system: a magnetoencephalography study. NeuroReport 17(11): 1115-1119.
2005 Cheng Y*, Tzeng OJL, Hung D, Decety J, Hsieh JC (2005) Modulation of spinal excitability during observation of bipedal locomotion. NeuroReport 16(15): 1711-1714.