Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online.
Singer and Fehr. 2005. The neuroeconomics of mind reading and empathy. AEA Papers and Proceedings.
A brief review of what we know about mind reading and empathy, more generally called "theory of mind."
People's minds can emulate what other people's minds do. Mirror neurons light up in respond to motion. Similarly, the same parts of my brain are active whether I am in pain or whether I observe someone in pain--even if I'm observing a stranger.
The authors outline their plans for future research, which includes a study into whether we respond differently to seeing somebody in pain depending on whether we like the person.
Research by the same authors
Research on similar subjects