Jorge Moll: Understanding the Pleasures of Giving

One of the most influential neuroscientists in Brazil today – Jorge Moll – became popular and at the same time, controversial, for his study regarding the human brain and the way it responds to altruism. According to his research, people who are showing generosity and charity would actually activate an area inside the brain, located in the front part of the cerebral complex, and it would release hormones that are seen as a response to the action. These hormones are responsible for the pleasurable feeling that an individual feels, and it is described as similar to eating or having sex (Terra). This pleasurable feeling has baffled the minds of the scientists in the past, and common people have given this phenomenon a nickname, and called it as “helper’s high”.


The reason why Jorge Moll conducted an experiment about the human brain is because of his passion to know more about morality and how it can be related to science. He decided that he would be starting his research about morality with studying on how altruism affects the brain. Altruism is the concept of selflessness or the human behavior of caring for others. Jorge Moll wanted to know what affects an individual to feel compassionate towards other people, and what drives them to give. Because of the research that he conducted, Jorge Moll found out that altruism is innate in the human brain, and it hardly evolved since mankind first appeared on the face of the planet. He noted in his research that altruism is a common behavior for humans, and it is one of the natural instincts of the brain, similar to eating, drinking, and surviving.


The research was conducted in 2006, and Jorge Moll has to seek the help of other neuroscientists around the world, including Jordan Grafman who is also one of his colleagues. This research about the human brain is considered by some scientists as remarkable, and they wanted Jorge Moll to conduct follow up research on the subject that he chose. Scientists agreed that what he found out was interesting, and the scientific community believes that his studies would one day unlock the secrets of the mind.


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