Grey matter size linked to altruism, says study

July 12th, 2012 - 2:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Berne, July 12 (IANS) Some people who are more forthcoming with help than others can thank the size of their grey matter, housed at the junction of the two brain lobes, says a new study.

Researchers from Switzerland’s University of Zurich led by Ernst Fehr, director of the department of economics, found a link between brain anatomy and altruistic behaviour in the first ever study of this kind.

Some people are almost never willing to sacrifice money to benefit others while others behave very altruistically. Previous studies had shown that the grey matter is linked to the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes in order to understand their thoughts and feelings.

Altruism is probably closely related to this ability.

Consequently, researchers suspected that individual differences in this part of the brain might be linked to differences in altruistic behaviour, according to a Zurich statement.

Yosuke Morishima, post-doctoral researcher in economics at Zurich, said: “People who behaved more altruistically also had a higher proportion of grey matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobes.”

Ernst Fehr adds: “These are exciting results for us. However, one should not jump to the conclusion that altruistic behaviour is determined by biological factors alone.”

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