Neural fingerprints of altruism

There are two war veterans, both with penetrating traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a gunshot. One of them tends to donate his own money to societal entities he believes in, and the other one punishes institutions that don’t represent him. The answer for these behavioral differences rely on brain areas, which, after being damaged during the Vietnam War, are no longer working as they are supposed to. In order to elucidate these mechanisms, neuroscientists investigated altruistic behavior—actions that benefit others—in Vietnam veterans. The study was published in Brain.

For at least 150 years, researchers have known that TBI can change several domains of behavior, impairing social behavior or memory, for instance, depending on which brain areas have been damaged. However, mapping the relation between brain areas and behavior can be tough, especially for complex behavior such as altruism. War veterans constitute a unique opportunity to reveal causal relationship between specific brain areas involved in social behavior.

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Read also: Research paper

About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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