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News & Views: Is there a neural basis for altruism?
Posted on September 22, 2014 by Katherine Malanson | Categories: ND Unit1, Neurological Disorders | | Add comment |

cartoon of altruism

New research indicates that there just might be a neural basis for altruism. Using structural and functional MRI, researchers imaged the brains of extraordinary altruists (people who volunteered to donate a kidney to a stranger). The scans showed that compared to control subjects, the extraordinary altruists not only had larger amygdalas, but that their amydalas had greater activation when they viewed pictures of people displaying fear. Interestingly, these results are the polar opposite from the researchers’ earlier work with psychopaths. The psychopaths were found to have smaller amygdalas with less activation when viewing faces displaying fear compared to control.

Read more of NPR’s coverage at NRP.org.