Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First study to watch brain patterns when forgiving

09.10.2003


Different parts of brain are activated

In the first study ever to examine how the brain functions when making judgments about forgivability and empathy, researcher Tom Farrow, B.Sc. (Hons.), Ph.D., found that different regions of the brain are activated when a person makes judgments about forgiving.

The findings will be presented at the Scientific Conference on Forgiveness along with studies from over 40 of the top scientists in the world who study forgiveness. The conference is in Atlanta October 24-25. To register, log on to the Press Room at: http://www.forgiving.org/campaign/clippings.asp



This study, conducted in the UK, shows that forgiveness is a complex process that occurs in the brain. Different parts of the brain are utilized when a person makes moral judgments, empathizes with someone and eventually makes judgments about how forgivable the person and/or action may be. Farrow’s study is the first ever to examine how the brain functions when making judgments about forgivability and empathy. Through MRI scanning of a healthy control group, the study found that judgments about forgivability and empathy produced a distinct pattern of brain activity.

Following therapy, the brain activity of two separate groups of patients, one with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the other with Schizophrenia, appeared to normalize and return to the patterns seen in the healthy control group. These changes were noted in the portion of the brain involved in feeling empathy and making moral judgments. Changes were not as pronounced in the regions of the brain that controls forgivability judgments.

Farrow is a Lecturer in Adult Psychiatry (Neuroimaging), Sheffield Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratory (SCANLab), Sheffield University, UK. He is also a Visiting Royal Society Overseas Research Fellow, Brain DynamicsCentre,Westmead Hospital and Honorary Lecturer, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, Australia.

(Control data published in the Journal of Neuro Report, Vol. 12, Issue 11, pages 2433-2438 in 2001; PTSD data under submission to the British Journal of Psychiatry; Schizophrenia data is being typed up and prepared for submission; PTSD and Schizophrenia data presented at many conferences in the U.S., Japan and Australia.)

ABSTRACT: Farrow, Tom: Brain Imaging and Empathic and Forgivability Judgments

1. Brain imaging of high-level cognitive functions is feasible.
2. Physiologically, forgiveness is almost certainly a multi-dimensional complex cognitive process.
3. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may be possible to demonstrate brain activation change, concomitant with symptom resolution and / or therapeutic input.

Forgiveness is likely to comprise multiple cognitive components. One such component may be the ability to judge the forgivability of another’s actions. Another component may be an ability to empathize with others, including an aggressor. Empathy consists of two components: an affective (visceral emotional reaction) and a cognitive (understanding of the conspecific’s behaviour). Empathy and forgiveness are also both heavily dependent on the expression and interpretation of emotions. We used functional MRI to examine the neural correlates of making empathic and forgivability judgments. To our knowledge this is the first study to examine the functional anatomy of forgiveness. We posited that forgiveness incorporates judgments of another’s intentions, their emotional state and the forgivability of their actions. While it was not feasible to image subjects actively forgiving or empathizing in ’real life’, we used narrative scenarios derived from everyday life, to probe the neural systems supporting these complex cognitive functions. We hypothesised that fronto-temporal regions would be differentially activated by these tasks.

Method:-12 healthy control subjects and 13 patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) underwent fMRI scanning, while they engaged in tasks: (i) that involve speculation on another’s intention, (ii) that invoke empathy and (iii) involve making judgments of actions’ forgivability; each versus ’baseline’ social reasoning judgments. A post-therapy fMRI scan followed a course of cognitive behavioral therapy with a forgiveness component. Results: Post-therapy, we found increased activation in brain regions predicted on the basis of foregoing work in healthy controls. These included significant left middle temporal gyrus activation in post-therapy response to empathy judgments and posterior cingulate gyrus activation in post-therapy response to forgivability judgments.

Conclusions: Empathic and forgivability judgments activate specific regions of the human brain, which we propose contribute to social cohesion. The activation in these regions changed with symptom resolution in PTSD.

Vicki Robb | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.forgiving.org/
http://www.forgiving.org/campaign/clippings.asp

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>