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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Born Compassionate? Is there a “Compassionate Gene”?


Is there a “Compassionate Gene”? January 1, 2015
In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience on October 9, 2013, Max Planck researchers identified that the tendency to be egocentric is innate for human beings – but that a part of your brain recognizes a lack of empathy and autocorrects. This specific part of your brain is called the the right supramarginal gyrus. When this brain region doesn't function properly—or when we have to make particularly quick decisions—the researchers found one’s ability for empathy is dramatically reduced. This area of the brain helps us to distinguish our own emotional state from that of other people and is responsible for empathy and compassion. Evidently, you need only 20 seconds to know whether a stranger is trustworthy, kind or compassionate, traits grounded in our genes, according to research published recently. The study authors concluded that a single genetic change can make a person seem more compassionate or kind to others. The findings aim to reinforce that healthy humans are conditioned to recognize strangers who may help them out in a tough situation. They also make way for genetic therapies for people who are not naturally sympathetic. It's remarkable that complete strangers could pick up on who's trustworthy, kind or compassionate in 20 seconds when all they saw was a person sitting in a chair listening to someone talk, said Aleksandr Kogan, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral student at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. The study, published in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, builds up on a previous research on the human genetic predisposition to empathy.

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