Offspring Magazine - The Podcast (Max Planck PhDNet)

#3-18 - Autism, Neuroscience of Empathy and Pain, and Placebo Effect - ft. Dr. Ben Rein

Listen on

Episode notes

Today is part two of Bea's conversation with Ben Rein, a science communicator and postdoc at Stanford University. This time, they are talking about the research that Ben did during his PhD, studying Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Ben describes using the mouse model to study the link between genetic changes, prefrontal cortex activity, and social behaviour, and how studies done in mice can be a step on a long road towards clinical trials. Ben explains the diagnostic criteria and how one goes about getting an ASD diagnosis in the US, and discusses the known causes of autism. Ben and Bea also talk about Andrew Wakefield's falsified data and emphasise the abundant evidence demonstrating that vaccines do not cause autism.

Ben talks about the neuroscience of pain and empathy, studies done on the social transfer of pain, and the implications these findings can have for treatment. Bea and Ben also discuss the placebo effect, how powerful it is, and if there is a way to utilise that power outside of research.

To find out more about Ben and what he does, check out his website:
Ben's Tik Tok:
Ben's Instagram:
Ben's Twitter:
Ben's research:
Episode Art: Photo by Bret Kavanaugh (@bretkavanaugh) on Unsplash (

You can follow us on:





If you have any feedback, comments, or suggestions, reach out to us at [email protected]

Check out the Offspring-Blog where we publish articles on a regular basis:

Intro - Outro music composed by Srinath Ramkumar:

Pre-Intro jingle composed by Gustavo Carrizo:

See you soon!