Category Archives: Medical Expert

Neuroscientist Jorge Moll Takes Empathy To A New Level

Jorge Moll sent an email telling his colleagues there was something they had to see. Neuroscientists Jordan Grafman and Jorge Moll had been performing brain scans on volunteers who were asked to consider a scenario of donating money to charity or keeping the entire amount (Crunchbase). The two were amazed at the results which showed that the interest of others was being placed avoid their own interest.


A primitive portion of the brain which typically lights up responding to food or sex was activated by the generosity. The results of the experiment show that altruism is actually hard-wired into the brain and brings pleasure instead of being a moral faculty showing the suppression of selfish instincts. The findings in 2006 give scientific support to spiritual leaders and show how neuroscience has started entering morality discussions and a new way of examining what being good means.


Jorge Moll and others are studying the potential of a moral compass being built into the brain through psychological experiments and imaging of the brain. While we know that animals have the ability to sacrifice their interests no one knows if they have moral qualms like people experience because we have not been inside their heads. Experiments have shown that a rat will stop eating eventually if another rat gets shocked when it eats.


The center of the brain that lit up during Jorge Moll’s and Grafman’s experiment shows that morality’s roots are biological. Empathy appears to be morality’s foundation. There is a fear that personal responsibility will be viewed as less important if immorality and morality are attributed to the chemistry of the brain instead of free will. There are those who wonder if morality is degraded if it becomes just an evolutionary tool of nature to aid in the survival of the species.


Experiments like those ran by Jorge Moll and Grafman are among a number of those that have shown moral thinking is connected to emotions even though these decisions can feel as if they are abstract challenges of an intellectual nature. Those with the ventromedial prefrontal cortex damage have difficulty with the capability to feel the emotions for moral answers.