Navigation Links
The more gray matter you have, the more altruistic you are
Date:7/11/2012

This press release is available in German.

The volume of a small brain region influences one's predisposition for altruistic behavior. Researchers from the University of Zurich show that people who behave more altruistically than others have more gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobe, thus showing for the first time that there is a connection between brain anatomy, brain activity and altruistic behavior.

Why are some people very selfish and others very altruistic? Previous studies indicated that social categories like gender, income or education can hardly explain differences in altruistic behavior. Recent neuroscience studies have demonstrated that differences in brain structure might be linked to differences in personality traits and abilities. Now, for the first time, a team of researchers from the University of Zurich headed by Ernst Fehr, Director of the Department of Economics, show that there is a connection between brain anatomy and altruistic behavior.

To investigate whether differences in altruistic behavior have neurobiological causes, volunteers were to divide money between themselves and an anonymous other person. The participants always had the option of sacrificing a certain portion of the money for the benefit of the other person. Such a sacrifice can be deemed altruistic because it helps someone else at one's own expense. The researchers found major differences in this respect: Some participants were almost never willing to sacrifice money to benefit others while others behaved very altruistically.

More gray matter

The aim of the study, however, was to find out why there are such differences. Previous studies had shown that a certain region of the brain the place where the parietal and temporal lobes meet is linked to the ability to put oneself in someone else's shoes in order to understand their thoughts and feelings. Altruism is probably closely related to this ability. Consequently, the researchers suspected that individual differences in this part of the brain might be linked to differences in altruistic behavior. And, according to Yosuke Morishima, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich, they were right: "People who behaved more altruistically also had a higher proportion of gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobes."

Differences in brain activity

The participants in the study also displayed marked differences in brain activity while they were deciding how to split up the money. In the case of selfish people, the small brain region behind the ear is already active when the cost of altruistic behavior is very low. In altruistic people, however, this brain region only becomes more active when the cost is very high. The brain region is thus activated especially strongly when people reach the limits of their willingness to behave altruistically. The reason, the researchers suspect, is that this is when there is the greatest need to overcome man's natural self-centeredness by activating this brain region.

Ernst Fehr adds: "These are exciting results for us. However, one should not jump to the conclusion that altruistic behavior is determined by biological factors alone." The volume of gray matter is also influenced by social processes. According to Fehr, the findings therefore raise the fascinating question as to whether it is possible to promote the development of brain regions that are important for altruistic behavior through appropriate training or social norms.


'/>"/>
Contact: Ernst Fehr
ernst.fehr@econ.uzh.ch
41-446-343-701
University of Zurich
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Mesothelioma Victims Center Now Offers A US Navy Veteran Individual Or Family Dealing With Mesothelioma The Names Of The Best Mesothelioma Attorneys--Quality Matters
2. Mesothelioma Victims Center Urges US Navy Veterans or Anyone with Mesothelioma to Call Them for the Names of the Best Mesothelioma Attorneys in the US-Quality Matters
3. Meditation Method a Matter of Taste
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
The more gray matter you have, the more altruistic you are
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... ... North Cypress Medical Center hosted its 9th Annual Spring Classic ... help of community partners, the event organizers raised $45,000 for the Lone Survivor ... and their families through health, wellness, and therapeutic support. , A special military ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... 26, 2016 , ... Power Systems, a leading developer and ... Certification Course in Stoughton, Massachusetts. The course was led by Power Systems’ Education ... hour interactive course to qualify participants as certified PowerWave trainers. , PowerWave ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... ... The introduction of our professional athletes coincides with the company’s new campaign: “LOOK ... are proud to introduce Meghan Klingenberg, defender and World Champion with the US Women’s ... Los Angeles who was a second round selection in the 2012 NFL draft. We ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... Dr. LeRoy Perry’s recently authored whitepaper, ... mobile devices on the billions of users, hundreds of millions of whom are coming ... life threatening, the frequent and common action of looking down at hand-held technology devices ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... In Madeira Beach Florida, a small town ... drawbridge, citizens formed an organization, Madeira Beach United, to oppose two development projects undertaken ... town center to a high rise urban environment. , According to the Tampa ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2016)... 24, 2016 ARANZ Medical  Ltd ... healthcare sector, has been named the Coretex Hi-Tech Emerging Company ... Dr Bruce Davey , CEO of ARANZ ...  It,s really good to be recognised for the work we ... are used in 35 countries around the world from Sub-Saharan ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... , May 24, 2016 ... the world , s first dual ... fistula intervention   OrbusNeich, a global company ... expanded its portfolio to include products to treat peripheral ... the company,s first entry devices for lower limb and ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... , May 24, 2016 Dutch surgeons have ... practices around the world and treat patients on a global scale. ... , Asia and the US have ... instant messaging and networking in a totally secure environment. ... a war zone working together with a surgeon at Harvard to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: