Malleable Morality

Scientists have blocked cell activity in the brain's moral reasoning region inducing people to use purely consequential reasoning rather than consider moral principles.

Scientists have blocked cell activity in the brain's moral reasoning region inducing people to use purely consequential reasoning rather than consider moral principles. "Lead researcher Dr Liane Young said: 'You think of morality as being a really high-level behavior. To be able to apply a magnetic field to a specific brain region and change people's moral judgments is really astonishing.' The key area of the brain is a knot of nerve cells known as the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ). The researchers subjected 20 volunteers to a number of tests designed to assess their notions of right and wrong. In one scenario participants were asked how acceptable it was for a man to let his girlfriend walk across a bridge he knew to be unsafe. After receiving a 500 millisecond magnetic pulse to the scalp, the volunteers delivered verdicts based on outcome rather than moral principle. If the girlfriend made it across the bridge safely, her boyfriend was not seen as having done anything wrong. In effect, they were unable to make moral judgments that require an understanding of other people's intentions. Previous work has shown the RTPJ to be highly active when people think about the thoughts and beliefs of others."

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

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Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

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Brain study finds circuits that may help you keep your cool

Research by neuroscientists at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory helps explain how the brain regulates arousal.

Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP/ Getty Images
Mind & Brain

MIT News

The big day has come: You are taking your road test to get your driver's license. As you start your mom's car with a stern-faced evaluator in the passenger seat, you know you'll need to be alert but not so excited that you make mistakes. Even if you are simultaneously sleep-deprived and full of nervous energy, you need your brain to moderate your level of arousal so that you do your best.

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34 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
  • The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
  • According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
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How pharmaceutical companies game the patent system

When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
  • When this phenomenon happens in the pharmaceutical world, companies quickly apply for broad protection of their patents, which can last up to 20 years, and fence off research areas for others. The result of this? They stay at the top of the ladder, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
  • Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation the same as product invention. Companies should still receive an incentive for coming up with new products, he says, but not 20 years if the product is the result of "tweaking" an existing one.