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Scientists Use VR Simulation to Measure Human Capacity for Altruism

In the simulation, subjects are escaping a burning building, depleting their own energy and life force, when they suddenly come upon a stranger stuck under debris asking for their help. 3/15/2017 11:00 AM Eastern

Psychologist Indrajeet Patil used a compelling VR simulation to correlate altruistic behavior with parts of the brain.

In the simulation, subjects are escaping a burning building, depleting their own energy and life force, when they suddenly come upon a stranger stuck under debris asking for their help. The study looked at whether the subject stopped to help and then used an MRI to measure their right anterior insula, the part of the brain associated with emotional processing in social situations. 

"We found that people who engaged in costly unreciprocated altruistic behavior, which entailed risking one’s own life to save a stranger, had enlarged right [anterior insula] compared to those who preferred to save themselves without helping,” Patil and his colleagues wrote in Neuropsychologia as reported by Inverse.

Read the full story here.

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