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How to make an altruist




Phlebotomist Andrea Abbatte (R) monitors Lirio Romo as she donates blood at LifeSource Blood Services January 16, 2004 in Glenview, Illinois.
Phlebotomist Andrea Abbatte (R) monitors Lirio Romo as she donates blood at LifeSource Blood Services January 16, 2004 in Glenview, Illinois.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

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Are people born selfish and self-interested or is it the environment that makes a person anti-social?

Two neuroscientists at UCLA who study the brain’s empathetic impulses say there’s evidence that the brain is more hardwired for altruism that we thought, and that it’s possible to teach people to be less selfish.

In the first study, they found that subjects who showed strong responses in the parts of the brain believed to deal with perceiving pain and emotion, behaved more generously, than those whose responses were stronger in another area, the prefrontal cortex.

In the second study, the scientists used a noninvasive procedure to weaken parts of the prefrontal cortex, and discovered that  disrupting impulse control there led to greater generosity.

Your brain might be hard-wired for altruism

Guests:

Marco Iacoboni, a UCLA psychiatry professor and lead author of two recently released studies looking at the neuroscience of human empathy