Chris Holden

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Jorge Moll – The Evolutionary Attribute of Giving More, Receiving More

by Chris Holden - March 6th, 2018.
Filed under: Society.

Ancient adages are well known for a reason, and few are more popular than “give more, receive more.” This phrase has stood the test of time, withstanding a waning society that is less committed to the idea. Tough economic times adds a level of skepticism to our traditional values, so how could one be motivated to be more altruistic in an era where pop culture promotes selfishness?

Meet Jorge Moll and his team, who are on the cutting edge of understanding the link between altruism and our brain. Neuroscience, to this day, still hosts many mysteries in understanding how our brain and nervous system work. Many of the areas that are commonly discussed do not mention altruism, and for good reason. Why would helping others be linked with an evolutionary process? After all, our brain is guided by animalistic drives that promote selfishness and competition.

In an experiment on volunteers, Moll and other neuroscientists analyzed brain scans to the response of a basic question: If you had the choice of keeping a sum of money to yourself, or donating it to charity, which would you do?

Surprisingly, the ones who sought to donate it to charity had the part of their brain lit up that was associated with basic animalistic urges such as food and sex. This shows that altruism is hardwired to the brain, a basic urge that has a reward center similar to other selfish drives.

This discovery has led us into an area where neuroscience is now creeping into our higher moral curiosities ( Moralism has often times been deemed subjective, an unprovable philosophy that can’t directly be linked to science. Now, that has all changed.

The next experiment involved two rats. When one rat was awarded food, the other received an electric shock in response. After a few trials, the rat stopped eating to prevent the other rat from being harmed. Findings like these show that there is an evolutionary part in all animals that involve a moral compass.

For Jorge Moll, many of these findings correlate with his beliefs about reality. Positive thinking, selflessness, and working to better the “whole” of society are attributes that will both serve others and serve the self. In an increasingly competitive society, it is important that we do not become too lost in ourselves and forget about the rest of humanity. We are all part of the whole.


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