Thomas Ramey Watson

Brain Region Called Temporoparietal Junction Linked In University Of Zurich Study

Some people are generous–others, not so much. Why is that?

A new study from Switzerland suggests that the answer to that question may be a matter of neuroanatomy, with the brains of altruistic types having more “gray matter” in a region of the brain known as the temporoparietal junction.

It’s the first study to show a clear link between brain structure and altruism, according to a written statement released by the University of Zurich.
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Does the provocative finding suggest that altruism or selfishness is hard-wired into the brain? Not necessarily.

“One should not jump to the conclusion that altruistic behavior is determined by biological factors alone,” Fehr said. Social “processes” also play a role, he said, adding that the findings raise the question of whether training people to be altruistic could encourage the growth of certain regions of the brain.

What sorts of social processes does Ernst have in mind? “This could be everything similar to what parents do repeatedly when they point out to their children that they should share resources with other kids or that they should take other kids interests into account when making decisions,” he said in an email to The Huffington Post.

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