People abusing human rights are missing part of their brain
Neuroscience researchers have shown for the first time that people behaving more altruistically than others have more gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobe, thus showing a connection between brain anatomy, brain activity and altruistic behavior, unselfish concern for the human rights of others.
"People who behaved more altruistically also had a higher proportion of gray matter at the junction between the parietal and temporal lobes," stated Yosuke Morishima, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich.
For the first time, a team of University of Zurich researchers, headed by Ernst Fehr, Director of the Department of Economics, shows a connection between brain anatomy and altruistic behavior, a criteria for defending human rights.
The study aimed to learn why there are differences between altruistic people and people who selfishly abuse others.
Previous studies had shown that the brain region where the parietal and temporal lobes meet "is linked to the ability to put oneself in someone else's shoes in order to understand their thoughts and feelings."
"To investigate whether differences in altruistic behavior have neurobiological causes, volunteers were to divide money between themselves and an anonymous other person. The participants always had the option of sacrificing a certain portion of the money for the benefit of the other person. Such a sacrifice can be deemed altruistic because it helps someone else at one's own expense. The researchers found major differences in this respect: Some participants were almost never willing to sacrifice money to benefit others while others behaved very altruistically." (Science Daily)
Conversely, while altruism and human rights defending can be for selfish reasons, such as recognition, a sense of worth and duty to our personal code, people abusing the rights of others are, among other factors, missing part of their brain, gray matter according to the new study report.
Altruism and human rights go hand-in-hand
"Before human rights, there was altruism and after human rights there is altruism —the unselfish concern for the welfare of others," states Daniel Tarantola, Senior Policy Advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization and Associate of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.
Myers (2008) described genuine altruism as the motivation of "an ultimate goal of selfless concern for another person (p. 440)."
International human rights are social issues that appeal to the inner senses and tug on the heart. They also require altruism, according to the new study, gray matter.
Gray matter, named because it is darker than the brian's white matter, is a major component of the central nervous system.
Every person has certain equal rights based on human equality, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These rights must be protected, which is where altruism, or extra gray matter is needed: People with much sharing with those who do not, instead of taking more than their share.
Gray matter replacement
Could it be that political and corporate leaders who routinely abuse human rights, such as those leaders who foster drones, torture and other prisoner abuse, and all of those who follow them, simply lack gray matter?
Could those exhibiting small man syndrome and extremist behaviors simply lack gray matter?
"These are exciting results for us," stated Ernst Fehr. "However, one should not jump to the conclusion that altruistic behavior is determined by biological factors alone."
With an estimated 10 to 20 percent of troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, the Pentagon rolled out an initiative in 2010 to treat the condition: brain implants likened to “replacement parts” for damaged gray matter.
DARPA researchers, according to Wired Magazine, "hope to develop chips that essentially mimic those interactions, so that an implant can 'read a signal from region A, bypass damaged area B, and get that signal to C.'