Jorge Moll Proving that Altruism is Only Human Nature

Two neuroscientists of the National Institutes of Health collaborated on a study of the effect that donating had on our brains and what part of the human brain responds when we make a charitable giving. Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman worked together, scanning the brains of a few dozen volunteers.

The volunteers for the research were asked to imagine one of two opposing scenarios- one of them as donating money to charity and the other involved keeping the money for themselves instead. While the participants were imagining the situations, the scanners were showing exciting activity in their brains. The receptors that responded to the notion of being charitable were located in a primitive part that becomes active in response to primary desires such as food or sex. Follow Jorge on

The reason why that became an exciting discovery is that altruism has been considered as a superior moral that not every person had. While not everyone is oriented towards dedicating their life to charity, every human brain has a fundamental part that responds to primary stimuli including those for survival. Altruism fits in the picture according to the results of the study.

Giving to others does not awaken an obscure part of the human brain and altruism is not controlled by a superior moral faulty in the brain as it was once suggested. Instead, altruism and helping others is an everyday need, and it does not suppress unselfishness but rather resides among the primary needs of a human being.


As Jordan Grafman and Jorge Moll continued their research, they concluded that the foundation of morality such as altruism starts with empathy. The conclusions from the neuroscientific research lent support to some philosophical notions and dismissed others. Now that a part of philosophy has science backing it up, individuals are likely to start viewing some aspects of human nature in a different light.

As a whole, being a good person is not defined only though romantic views as neuroscience is also starting to become more involved in the subject. Altruism is a basic need and not a superior morality, and that has already spurred discussions in some fields. Watch this video on Youtube.

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Sources used to write this article (in Portuguese)