Although both empathy and theory of mind allow human beings to understand others through the representation of their mental states or their emotional states, research in the field of neuroscience has shown that the abilities of mentalizing and empathizing are associated with activation of different neuro-cognitive circuits. On the other hand, recent studies, based on naturalistic paradigms, have shown that the neural systems involved in sharing and mentalization experiences play a complementary role during complex social interactions. This review aims to discuss distinction and overlap in the constructs of empathy and theory of the mind, both from the psychological and neurobiological point of view. The knowledge of the state of the art in this theme can support and direct the planning of specific clinical interventions mainly based on the strengthening of empathic abilities or theory of mind.
Keywords: Theory of mind, empathy, mentalization, neural correlates, social interactions.