Your brain corrects you morallyJuly 10th, 2011 - 5:29 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, July 10 (IANS) Unknown to you, your brain might have a hidden agenda — discouraging you to stray from the narrow path to rectitude.
It does so by simulating physical sensations to prompt introspection, capitalizing on moments when your emotions might be intense.
Mary Helen Immordino of the University of Southern California (USC) Brain and Creativity Institute, found that individuals who were told stories to evoke compassion and admiration for virtue, sometimes reported that they felt a physical sensation in response.
These psycho-physical “pangs” of emotion are very real — they can be ascertained with brain scans — and may be evidence that pro-social behaviour is part of human survival, reports the journal Emotion Review.
Immordino’s hypothesis is that the feeling or emotional reactions in the body may sometimes prompt introspection. They can ultimately promote moral choices and motivation to help or emulate others, according to a Southern California statement.
“These emotions are foundational for morality and social learning. They have the power to change the course of your very life,” Immordino said.
In one instance, a participant responded to a story of a little boy’s selflessness toward his mother by reporting that he felt like there was a “balloon or something under my sternum, inflating and moving up and out.”
While pondering this physical sensation, the participant paused for a moment and considered his own relationship with his parents.
Ultimately, he voiced a promise to express more gratitude toward them. Researchers noted similar reactions in varying degrees in other participants’ tests.
Immordino’s team has performed about 50 of these qualitative analyses in Beijing and at USC.
She said: “We are an intensely social species. Our very biology is a social one.”
“For centuries poets have described so-called gut feelings during social emotions. Now we are uncovering the biological evidence,” she added.
–Indo-Asian News service
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Tags: biological evidence, brain scans, emotional reactions, gut feelings, hidden agenda, human survival, mary helen, moral choices, narrow path, pangs, physical sensation, physical sensations, qualitative analyses, rectitude, selflessness, social emotions, social species, southern california usc, sternum, university of southern california