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MR Helps pinpoint area of brain associated with altruism.

A new functional magnetic resonance study has located the area of the brain that predicts whether people tend to be selfish or altruistic. In the study, researchers used fMR to scan the brains of 45 people while they either played a computer game or watched the computer play the game on its own. In both cases, successful playing of the game earned money for a charity of the study participant's choice.

The subjects experienced a greater degree of activation in a region of the brain called the posterior superior temporal sulcus when they watched the computer play the game than when they acted themselves.

The researchers characterized the participants as more or less altruistic, based on their responses to questions about how often they engaged in different helping behaviors, and then compared the participants' brain scans with their estimated level of altruistic behavior. The fMR scans showed that increased activity in the posterior superior temporal sulcus strongly predicted a person's likelihood for altruistic behavior.

The findings hint that altruistic behavior may originate from how people view the world rather than how they act in it, according to the researchers. The study appeared in the Jan. 21 online issue of Nature Neuroscience.
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Title Annotation:in the news; magnetic resonance
Publication:ASRT Scanner
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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