- Scientists at the Italian Institute of Technology have performed an experiment on mice to understand the part of the brain that controls selfishness.
- In the experiment, they observed whether giving food to the mice would share their achieved reward with any other mouse or keep it to themself.
- Based on their behavior scientists have planned to create a drug that switches off this area of the brain to reduce selfishness in humans as well.
In any living form’s nature being selfish is an integral part. In fact, being selfish about one’s self and one’s betterment sometimes can be a fine line between whether one is alive or not in some parts of the forest or wildlife where situations and circumstances are always peppered with danger.
Needless to say that this trait is a major part of any animal’s think tank and behavioral pattern including us humans.
Recently the Italian Institute of Technology made a groundbreaking discovery regarding this trait. They have discovered the neurons which are responsible for prosocial and selfish behavior in mice.
Not only that, but they have also discovered a way of switching those very neurons on and off.
In other words, they can control how selfish those mice will behave in any given circumstance by gaining access to that particular neuron.
What does the study claim?
The scientists claim that this study was born out of the need to study social factors and the neurological determinants of altruism and self-interest.
During the quarantine period of Covid-19, isolation and loneliness were huge and major factors in everyday lives and that is the time when they felt the need to get to the root of this and discover more.
They also claimed that societal mindset, in general, had seen a shift already before a few years of the pandemic. The mindset had shifted to a more self-centered concern and a general disregard for others from altruism.
Instead of studying this shift entirely from a social and societal point of view, the scientists wanted to delve deeper into the brain and see for themselves what triggered this kind of behavior and the neurons responsible for the actions of a person.
At the end of the day, all our actions and decisions are a result of how the neurons in our brain dictate us to behave in a particular situation.
The team of scientists was able to identify the very neurons associated with selfish behavior and the resulting decisions taken.
In their experiment, they used food as a reward and manipulated the situations in such a manner that the rats came across a decision whether they would share their achieved reward with any other rat or keep it to themself and if they shared what were the reasons dictating such a behavior.
The conclusions left the scientists in absolute awe as they found out factors such as familiarity, sex, hunger, and social hierarchy.
Impact on Humans
The scientists were able to design a neurological mind map of the mice explaining the behavioral patterns and associated neurons which were responsible for the particular behavior.
This could eventually be applied to humans in order to understand the mental functioning behind anti-social behavior or violence. This could also pave the path for better understanding and deciphering the working of the most complicated organ of the human body- the mind and brain.