Monday, January 22, 2007

Selfish or Altruistic - It's All In The Brain

Posterior superior temporal sulcus. That's the name for the part of the human brain that determines whether you'll be selfish or altruistic - willing to help out others with no expectation of reward.

A Duke University Medical Center study published in Nature Neuroscience assessed 45 volunteers. The test subjects were asked to disclose how often they engaged in different helping behaviours, such as doing charity work, and were also asked to play a computer game designed to measure altruism.

The researchers are now exploring ways to study the development of this brain region in early life and believe such information may help determine how altruistic tendencies are established. In particular they want to know if early childhood influences could affect development in the altruism centre.

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