Monday, September 23, 2013

Generosity and the Brain

Svoboda has written a new book entitled, “What Makes a Hero? The Surprising Science of Selflessness.” It contains Neuroscientist Jordan Grafman has investigated where generosity originates in the brain using scans. Turns out that when study participants decided to donate to what they thought was a worthy organization, parts of the midbrain lit up (portions of the brain that control cravings for food and sex and that became active when the participants added money to their personal reward accounts.) Part of the frontal lobes also were activated when the participants made the decision to give to charity; this subgenual area contains oxytocin receptors, a hormone that promotes social bonding. This suggests that altruism and social relationships may be closely connected. Part 2 tomorrow.

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