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Are you an altruist or a psychopath?

By on October 10, 2014

A recent study indicates that over development of a specific part of the brain may be responsible for extreme altruism. You may be wondering what ‘extreme altruism’ is, well in the case of the subjects in the study the altruism was the donation of a kidney to a complete stranger, which is about as extreme as altruism can get in our book.

Interestingly, underdevelopment of the same part of the brain is associated with psychopaths.

The part of the brain that apparently leads to either extreme altruism (if overdeveloped) or psychopathology (if underdeveloped) is the right side of the amygdale. The amygdala is the part of the brain associated with rapid emotional responses.

So remember, this amygdala is too big, and that amygdala is too small, but your amygdala is just right! new study sheds light on the answer to that question by studying the brains of extreme altruists – people on the extreme end of the caring continuum. In this case researchers chose to study people who donated a kidney to a complete stranger. They found that not only are extreme altruists’ brains different from a normal person’s, they’re basically the opposite of a psychopath’s in one key way – indicating that a specific brain region may play an important role in people’s ability to care for one another.  See more…

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