Altruism is subject to brain influence, says neuroscientist, Jorge Moll

A 2006 study conducted by neuroscientist Jorge Moll and a team of other scientists shows that altruistic behavior is affected by the physical composition of the human brain. This is not the first research that Jorge Moll is conducting, as he has initiated some clinical studies aimed at understanding how the human minds work. His previous research was centered on the neural spectrum which has sought to understand the physical mechanisms that trigger emotional responses. The results from his 2006 study into altruism indicate that the architecture of our brains can influence our emotional reactions towards charitable acts.


The study posed a hypothetical question to some volunteers, where they presented them with two scenarios. They were required to either give money to charity or use it for their material gain. Jorge Moll employed the functional magnetic imaging to monitor the brains of the subjects to establish which part of their brains influenced their decisions. Jorge and his team expertly observed the mesolimbic system, which is the sector of our brains that dictates our system of reward by releasing dopamine, which is the chemical that makes react to pleasure. It is also the part of the brain that creates stimuli, indicating want for food and sex.


The results of the study showed that more dopamine was released when a subject chose to donate money to charity. The subjects experienced more pleasure when they were being rewarded for altruism than when they decided to keep the money for themselves. Additionally, the study showed that the brains were more active when the choice of charity inclined with their moral beliefs and attitude.


More about Jorge Moll


Jorge Mall did his residency in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the same university where he attained his MD in Neuroscience. Moll is also a Ph.D. holder in Experimental Pathophysiology from the University of Sao Paulo. He serves as a board member and president of D’Or Institute of Research and Education (IDOR) and is also the director of the Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience Unit (CBNU) and Neuroinformatics Workgroup.


In his daily routine, Jorge Moll engages students, researchers, fellow scientists, associates and entrepreneurs to ensure a multi-directional flow of ideas. Moll believes in joint efforts and collaborations, and he uses this criterion in his daily work as he is tasked with picking the best ideas. He thinks that being open and transparent and having the right set of skills is cardinal in increasing productivity.