A recent UK study shows that identifying with the pain of a loved one triggers the pain centers in one’s own brain. This experiment supports the hypothesis that empathy, a component of alturistic love, has a neurological basis and gets its source from emotional and not cognitive processing.
The sights, sounds and other representations of emotions in a subject can trigger similar feeling states in an observer. This means that these external representations probably match up somehow with our own internal representations of feeling states. The external signals of joy and suffereing can be matched to our own memories of past joy and suffering.
Maybe this means that (totally my own extrapolation here) we increase our capacity to connect with others by 1) Slowing down, listening deeply, and tuning into the feelings of others and 2) Fully experiencing our own feeling states. Seems like that is exactly what meditation is supposed to do. Tune us into others and ourselves by reducing the mental chatter and our tendencies to run from unpleasant feelings through avoidance, distractions, or indulgence.
My own musings aside, it is nice to see Science support matters of the Heart.